Published on May 15th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Maserati & Volkswagen Enjoying Sales Lead In Japan
Maserati and the Volkswagen Group and other foreign automakers are having their best sales streak in years in Japan, as the economy improves and consumers like Taichi Matsukura try to stand out amid a sea of Toyotas. “When I opened the door, the colors and interior immediately evoked Italy. The sound of the muffler got my heart racing,” Matsukura, a 42-year-old restaurant designer, said about the Fiat Abarth 595C convertible he bought to replace his Honda CR-V. “I don’t play pachinko or golf. So at least I deserve a car to excite myself.”
Consumers flush from a 57% rally in the Nikkei in 2013 Japan’s steepest rise in 4 decades have been spending on imported sports cars and compacts. In the year that ended March 31, 302,000 non-Japanese cars were sold in the country, the most since 1997, according to the Japan Automobile Importers Association. Foreign automakers have long struggled to make inroads to Japan, which Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally last June called the “most closed market in the world.” Even now, domestic models account for 90 percent of sales volume. Two of every model sold are domestic “kei” cars, small, boxy and easy-to-handle models seen in Tokyo and rural areas alike. Foreign carmakers captured 9% of non-kei car sales in the year ending in March, their highest share since the importer group started keeping records in 1989.