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Japan Auto Production Falls 47.1% in April, Exports Drop 64.7%

Production of light-duty vehicles, trucks and buses in Japan fell 47.1% year-on-year in April, marking the seventh consecutive month of declines, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA). Japan’s exports of cars, trucks and buses fell 64.7% in April from the year-earlier month, also falling for the seventh straight month, JAMA said.

Production of passenger cars was 415,804 units, down 47.2%. Production of cars with engine displacement of more than 2,000cc plummeted 62.4% to 183,403 units. Production of small cars with displacements less than 2.0L but greater than 660cc (minicars) fell 30.8% to 133,596 units. Production of minicars was down 7.8% to 98,805 units.

Passenger car exports were down 64.4% to 184,548 units.



Thank goodness these manufacturers have the Kei cars to fall back on. The Americans should learn from this and call their legislators and demand an American Kei car that is 100% American built.

Kei cars are an innovation catalyst for the industry and our manufacturers have been left behind.

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Jim, are you for real? Do you really think Americans want a Kei car? I don't even want a Kei car and my tolerance for small cars with not too much power is far higher than most Americans'. What I want is more along the lines of the Volvo S80 DRIVe, a large car with a small engine that gets great fuel economy.

Anyway, if you look at the numbers above, even with the declines in production, the production numbers of the larger cars still outnumber the production numbers of the smaller cars (and the per unit profit is likely higher too) so I don't see that the Kei car is something for the Japanese manufacturers to fall back on, and certainly not for the American car manufacturers!

I don't see that these cars are an innovation catalyst either. Innovation is making a reasonably sized car that gets great fuel economy. Anybody can make a small car that gets great fuel economy. That's easy.


By constraining the size and engine capacity the Kei cars spur innovation by forcing manufacturers to increase performance (safety, mileage, etc.) within strict parameters. With our public roads being choked to death, these small cars offer a real solution.

A marketing benefit of the Kei car is that they are an affordable mode of transportation that help build brand loyalty.

Do inexpensive cars have a future in the US? I think some city streets should limit access to only Kei cars or electric cars. If we required drivers aged 16-21 to only drive Kei cars how many lives could be saved?

Yes Peter, I am for real. So are small, inexpensive cars. Anybody who thinks that US consumers are any different than Japanese, European and Indian consumers needs to get a passport and a plane ticket. If Americans have a chance to purchase a new Honda Zest for $9,000 that achieves over 50MPG they will flood the dealerships.


Sometimes I do wish that Monday morning Quarter backs were forced to invest their own money in losing propositions that they fervently spout. Pregnant roller skates were the 1970s answer to fuel economy. They aren't any more. They are yesterday's news.

Prius gets better mileage than these powered roller skates, gives reasonable performance to get out of its own way, and provides a modicum of safety as well as passenger room. None of which the Kei cars do.

Look at the production numbers. The entire export of micro cars was less than 100,000 units and Japan was exporting a lot of them to third world countries, that are nursing infant auto makers of their own to take his marklet fromorm them, and they will.

With their exports off 65% and the japanese internal market collapsing, I am stilll waiting for the blood in the streets.

When Toyota can lose $9 Billion in a single quarter, imagine what the other weaker Japanese manufactures are suffering. Toyota was sitting on a $36 billion dollar cas reserve 18 months ago. Now its all gone.

I expect an announcement any day that Nissan has collapsed, into bankruptcy and is threatening to drag Regie Renault in with them. And Nissan build lots of th ekind of cars the Green Loons espout.


It is amazing to see how far reaching the American Banks made recession realy is.

Never buy a car or a house that you can realy afford because 90%+ would be unamericanly (too) very small. Morgage the big house at 115%+ and roll in one or two oversized big cars while you're at it. Load your 10 credit cards up to $100K to buy enough furniture for those 10 large rooms.

Thirdly, try to get three jobs to to pay for it or declare bankruptcy.


Jim, I'll take a used whatever for $9K over a Kei car any day. Want to save lives? Require all 16-21yo drivers to get an old Mercedes 240D. Far safer in a crash than any Kei car and probably slower too. And they cost less than $9K.

I've lived in France. Certainly the cars they drive there are generally smaller than the cars we drive here. But very few, if any, are the size of Kei cars. Even the French don't feel like driving those things. The consumers are not all that different, true, it's the price of fuel that's different. People are more concerned with fuel consumption than size of vehicle. Why buy a tiny car that gets 50mpg if I can buy a big car that gets the same mileage?


Ex you are sadly correct about auto manufacturing all over the world. No western or japanese manufacturer is in good shape right now because they are all structured to build a lot more cars than people can buy.

I think small cars that are inexpensive are the short term solution for our manufacturers. Peter, you make a good point but buying used cars does nothing for manufacturing (except for parts). I think many people would agree with you but there is a chunk of the market that would purchase a new small car for $10k. Nissan is doing well with its stripper Sentra. If people had a choice of buying a new car that gets 50mpg for $10k or a $30k Prius that is bigger, many would probably choose the small car. From an environmental standpoint, less resources used = good news.

US manufacturers closed off this market with some stupid red tape regulations. How else can you explain why KA and Fiesta are good enough for EU but not "safe" enough for the US.. DUMB. If a motorcyle is "safe" enough then why not a Kei car?


HarveyD you always make the relevant point.


We get the Smart and the Mini Cooper, no reason the Ka and Fiesta can't be made US legal. The problem lies with the market, which is partly due to the price of gas and partly due to Americans preferring large cars regardless of the price of gas.


Peter, Penske ordered 150k Smart cars and they are complete and utter crap... and they cost $15k. Mini is a good car but $25k???

It took Ford 2 years to get the Fiesta US street legal. Ka and Fiat 500 are basically the same car, we'll see how long it takes them to get over here. Panda sells for about $10k now and it is a cool ride, again we will see how long it takes to get it here.

My point was that US manufacturers need to develop this segment. If Honda offered a Zest for $10k, all kitted out with turbo and 4wd... they would sell a bunch of them. American consumers have not had the chance to buy this segment because the wonderful management of the big three thought big cars= big profit. Lets turn our engineers on to the problem of building the best class of small car that they can. Small car does = small margin, so local manufacturers should have an advantage (even if the local manufacturer is Honda and Toyota.)

Americans need to change the mindset that their car is an extension of their manhood. A car is a utility vehicle used on the public commons. We as a democracy have every right to limit GVW and horsepower.


As you say, the Smart and the Mini Cooper are imported with no big problem.

Others could, just as easily, but would likely not sell well at this time, particularly if they lacked the cute, trendiness of the Mini Cooper.

Otherwise why did the Japanese send the Tundra, Titan, Armada and Sequoia - they have had minis swarming all over Japan since WWII?

Why trucks? Why not minis? Because they send over what sells.

Gas above $4/g would help. But it would take more than that to have a significant effect.

Hybrids and various EVs seem to be our only hope.
The technology is slow in coming but taking comfort in weird conspiracies is an undignified way to proceed.


Is a law banning sales of Kei cars a weird conspiracy? Car companies sell what can get licensed. A Tundra can be licensed, a Honda Zest cannot.


I thought I would mention that this company claims to have EVs. In one case they take a PT Cruiser and convert it.


They are also claiming to have one model for sale through Wal-Mart's Sam's Club in their catalog. FYI.


Interesting website.
Conversions might be no big challenge.

Affordable conversions are another matter.
The converted PT Cruiser is %55,000


Electric PT Cruisers are being used in a Sacramento suburb as cab instead of using 20 passenger diesel buses. We will see how all of this works out.


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