How Do You Sell a Non-Japanese Car in Japan? Global Automakers Couldn't Tell You

Posted by Dale Buss on December 19, 2013 12:41 PM

The world benefits from a variety of Japanese exports ranging from anime to sushi cuisine to Toyotas. But its auto market remains a redoubt of isolationism a generation after American carmakers made a political issue out of it. More than 90 percent of cars sold in Japan are still Japanese brands.

And this, according to the Wall Street Journal, has hurt Japan's automakers in ways similar to how Japanese smartphone makers have been handicapped around the world by gearing the features of their phones, sold globally, to the particular tastes of Japanese consumers.

"Their shortcomings led to the coining of the term 'Galapagos' to describe the market," the newspaper said. "Like the group of islands catalogued by Charles Darwin: uniquely evolved and ultimately at a disadvantage because of its isolation."Continue reading...


Nissan Hopes Diplomacy Holds, Tech Entices as It Again Pursues Growth Targets in China

Posted by Dale Buss on December 6, 2013 07:14 PM

Nissan is crossing its fingers that its renewed growth in China won't be sabotaged again by geopolitical shenanigans in the East China Sea. But that's not all the Japanese brand is doing: Nissan is pursuing distinct new strategies for the low and high segments of the world's largest auto market, and elsewhere.

Overall, Nissan has forecast that its growth in China will outpace industrywide sales growth there for the first time in three years as consumers return to Japanese brands after Chinese auto buyers abandoned Nissan, Toyota and Honda in droves last year when a diplomatic row erupted between Japan and China over disputed islands and surrounding waters.

"Fortunately to date, we haven't seen the recurrence of the uproar in demonstrations and the violence targeting Japanese companies that happened" then in China, Joseph Peter, Nissan's CFO, told Bloomberg.Continue reading...

Dreamin' of Bigger Impact in California, GM Plans to Debut Truck at LA Auto Show

Posted by Dale Buss on November 19, 2013 12:42 PM

California always has been the most important US auto market, but the Golden State now is beckoning in significant new ways. And auto brands are trying to address all of them as the media preview and then public exhibition near at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Tokyo is running its own biennial Motor Show this year almost in parallel with LA's, but the annual California platform is of greater overall interest to the global industry— especially to the Detroit Three carmakers, each of whose fortunes has picked up lately in the bellwhether state market. In fact, none of them are appearing at the Tokyo Show.

California also has taken on greater importance as the world's premier market for electric vehicles and other "green" auto technologies, both because of the early-adopter mentality of Californians and because of the state's stiffest-anywhere emissions laws, both of which compel carmakers to debut their most advanced vehicles there first. As the home of Silicon Valley, California also is taking on a greater role as automakers increasingly outfit vehicles with digital mobile technologies.Continue reading...

Toyota Holds Tight to Global Sales Title, But Chief Promises a Quality Comeback Too

Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2013 10:49 AM

As recently as five years ago, Toyota was the unchallenged 800-pound gorilla of the global automotive business. Now after a few years that disproved its invincibility, the company finally looks menacing again to its competitors.

The company posted a 70 percent increase in third-quarter profit and once again is the world's largest car maker by number of vehicles sold, pushing 10 million units a year—a level no company yet has reached. It arguably finally has put behind it the series of crises that enveloped the company beginning in 2008, including the Great Recession, pricey yen, a recall and safety scandal, and some boring products.

And now, while he won't quite shout it from the top of a Tokyo skyscraper, President Akio Toyoda—grandson of the founder—has made it clear that Toyota "is finally ready to go on the offensive again," as Automotive News put it. At this point, the New York Times pointed out, Toyota clearly is ahead of Japan-based rivals Nissan and Honda in its recovery and growth.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Civic Duty: Honda CEO Shoulders Blame for Slump

Posted by Dale Buss on December 1, 2011 11:01 AM

There's certainly plenty of blame to go around for the disappointing year that Honda has had. Start with Mother Nature: an earthquake in Japan and flood in Thailand. But human error also has played a large role in the brand's recent swoon in the U.S. market and worldwide.

For blame, you can now start with Honda Motor CEO Takanobu Ito and decisions that the company made concerning the less-than-impressive new Honda Civic, a mainstay of its product lineup. Civic sales have dipped by 15 percent so far this year in the U.S. despite the launch of the new version, and not just because of supply constraints caused by the natural disasters.

During a roundtable with journalists at the Tokyo Auto Show, Ito said that "the ultimate responsibiity" for decisions about the new version "rest[s] with me." But what decisions? How exactly did Civic, once a darling of Consumer Reports auto evaluators, end up left off the list of "recommended" vehicles for its 2012 version?Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: American Airlines, Groupon, News Corp. & more

Posted by Dale Buss on November 29, 2011 09:01 AM

In the News

Apple's environmental impact concerns China.

AT&T has an 11th hour plan to salvage T-Mobile deal and win over reluctant FCC.

American Airlines parent AMR files for bankruptcy protection to restructure debt as talks with pilots end.

American Express launches $20-million giveaway to spur online sales.

BSkyB holds annual meeting as James Murdoch survives investor vote; singer Charlotte Church alleges coverage trade-off for singing at Rupert Murdoch's wedding; and The Guardian reports broadening of News Corp. hacking scandal to include a North Ireland government minister.

Chevrolet gives three-day Sonic test drives to Klout leaders.

Cyber Monday sales come in 15-20 percent higher than a year ago.

Facebook targets $10 billion IPO for spring that would value social network at $100B.

Groupon shares plummet post-IPO.Continue reading...

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