Jeep Finds Growth and Success in the Japanese Automotive Market
Whereas other traditionally American automakers have struggled in Japan, Jeep sales are on the rise in the Land of the Rising Sun
Domestic loyalty in relation to automakers is a growing trend in the United States. Still, it’s nothing new for Japan, where drivers primarily stick to choosing vehicles from Japan’s own collection of automotive manufacturers.
Even when Japanese motorists do choose foreign brands, rarely are they American brands. For example, Ferrari outsold Chevrolet in Japan, and Ford’s own lack of success in the country saw it leave the Japanese market last year.
Yet in the face of all this failure to find success, one brand has risen through the ranks to become one of Japan’s top 10 foreign brands: Jeep.
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So far this year, Jeep has old 6,344 vehicles in Japan. While certainly not near the number’s of Japan’s own automakers like Toyota and Honda, it still places Jeep as the seventh best-selling foreign brand in the country, well ahead of competitors like Chevy and Ford.
In fact, Jeep’s market in Japan is only growing stronger. During the first three months of the year, Jeep sales rose 6.9% year-over-year.
Jeep is currently experiencing its eighth consecutive year of sales growth in Japan. Back in 2009, Jeep sold 1,000 vehicles in the country. Now, Jeep is on track to meet its target of 10,000 models sold by the end of this year.
So how did Jeep succeed where other traditionally American automakers failed? For one thing, Jeep was not afraid to cater to Japanese tastes.
Jeeps in Japan offer plenty of features with the Japanese market in mind. This includes a right-hand drive option for every Jeep model, as well as drivetrains tweaked to meet the Japanese government’s efficiency standards.
Jeep’s efforts have also expanded into the showroom. Jeep is both expanding and refurbishing its lineup of dealers in Japan, with a customized and personal buying experience and a sleek new look for the dealership’s aesthetics.
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Of course, some Jeep models do better than others in the Japanese market. Smaller Jeeps, such as the Renegade, tend to sell well in Japan, due to the country’s narrow roadways. Meanwhile, Japan is the fourth-largest market for the Jeep Wrangler, an impressive feat given the model’s global appeal.
For Japanese buyers, Jeep represents the most appealing aspects about the American lifestyle without isolating them. Instead of relying upon patriotic imagery of the American flag or the wide, open roads of Route 66, Jeep’s message in Japan is one of the rugged and free-spirited lifestyle often associated with the U.S.
“It’s more about the brand and less about the origin,” explains FCA Japan CEO Pontus Haggstrom.
Relying upon that strategy will likely continue to yield strong results for the Jeep brand in on of the world’s pickiest automotive markets.
News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)
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