With European and US car manufacturers using the Tokyo Motor Show to display their wares, they are struggling to make inroads into the Japanese market as local brands still account for 90 per cent of the market.

With European and US car manufacturers using the Tokyo Motor Show to display their wares, they are struggling to make inroads into the Japanese market as local brands still account for 90 per cent of the market.

As reported in Business Day, Peugeot reports that the combined market share of foreign vehicle manufacturers in Japan was 7,4 per cent until September. With sales of just over 180 000 out of 2,44 million, foreign manufacturers are fast losing out against the Japanese models – even the traditional frontrunners like BMW and Mercedes Benz.

According to Christian Delous, Peugeot’s director of international business, the reason for the lack of appeal was not the price of the vehicles but rather the nature of the consumer who prefers to buy Japanese.

"There are also factors relating specifically to the product." A significant proportion of the market was made up of mini vehicles with 660cc engines, which only the Japanese built. These tiny cars were "specific to Japan, and have to do with the use of space where there is high population density and buildings are packed tightly together", Delous said.

"Design is one of the trump cards imported cars hold against the Japanese as the people who buy European cars want to distinguish themselves from the crowd. In terms of design, the Japanese have turned towards European style."

This is despite the evidence suggesting that across the Pacific, Japanese manufacturers are growing in leaps and bounds in the European and American markets. In August this year, Toyota’s sales surpassed DaimlerChrysler’s for the first time to join Ford and General Motors in the ranks of America’s top vehicle performers.

Original article from Car