Tell that to the Germans. Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes are making a killing here and have been for years. Add Audi to the mix and the Teutonic big four have 60 per cent of an import market now worth a quarter of a million units a year. Nice work if you can get it.
It doesn’t end there, either. The Golf has been Japan’s number one import for aeons, but the 3-Series is now coming up in second place.
Just as in the rest of the world, the Germans have the products and image to woo buyers. They have the history and the reputation that helps to build up trust – but imports of course come at a price: a Golf for less than £12K sounds amazing until you discover you can buy an Auris here for £7688…
As for the others, Peugeot, Mini and Volvo have consistently been among the import front-runners. Rover and its various antecedents were also big in Japan, believe it or not, and Land Rover still has a big fan base.
But it’s the VWs, Mercs and BMWs that have the inside line. BMW has just launched the X6 here and it would be a surprise if it wasn’t another Bavarian cash cow.