When looking at the U.S. auto market share, it’s clear that Americans love to buy Japanese cars for a number of reasons. A few of the best-selling car brands in America are Japanese. In fact, Toyota, Honda and Nissan account for 30 percent of car sales in the U.S.
But American’s love affair with the Japanese and their cars is seemingly one-sided. The Japanese do not seem to have any interest in buying American-made cars. Many American auto-makers have either left the country entirely or kept a small presence. GM, the largest U.S. auto-maker, only sold 700 cars in Japan in 2018.
So, what’s the cause of this imbalance? While some critics say that certain regulations are to blame, other experts think it’s more superficial. Industry experts blame Japanese consumer taste, American cars’ negative stereotypes, and the different method Japanese consumers use to shop for cars.
First of all, Japanese buyers seem to prefer to buy Japanese cars. Over 95 percent of cars driven in Japan are from local manufacturers. American companies make a variety of vehicles, from sedans to pickup trucks; however, Japanese consumers are solely interested in smaller, more compact cars. Americans tend to make much larger vehicles that wouldn’t fit well on narrow and crowded Japanese roads.
The typical manner of buying a car in Japan is also quite different from the U.S. While Americans go to the dealership to pick out a car, Japanese consumers like to customize their own unique car. Along with that, Japanese dealerships are much more consumer-friendly, which excellent customers service and special amenities like coffee shops. This makes adjusting the the Japanese auto market even more difficult for American brands.
Moreover, Japanese consumers have a certain image of American cars in their head–an image from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, when American cars were still popular in Japan. These cars were of low quality, and still today, Japanese consumers picture American cars as inefficient and unreliable.