Published on May 24th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mercedes-Benz Is The No.1 Luxury Car In Japan
“I thought Japan was over after the Lehman crisis, expensive things didn’t sell and many foreign makers thought it wasn’t worth investing there,” Kintaro Ueno, head of the Japanese car importers association, said in an interview recently. “Last year presented the perfect chance to revisit Japan’s importance.” Among the beneficiaries was Mercedes-Benz, which sold a record 59,774 vehicles in Japan in the year through to March, up 40% over a year earlier and overtaking Toyota’s Lexus to regain the position of best-selling premium brand in the country after four years. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ unit Maserati, whose Gran Turismo starts from 22 million yen (USD217,000), more than doubled deliveries in Japan to 714 vehicles in the year ended March, the biggest gain among luxury brands.
The question is whether foreign carmakers’ advances are sustainable. Japan’s consumers snatched up increasing numbers of cars, both foreign and domestic, in the seven months through March just ahead of Japan’s move, in April, to raise its consumption tax to 8% from 5%. The government cushioned the effect of the increase by cutting its vehicle-purchase tax to 3% from 5%.