THE Japanese automotive industry is one of the most prominent and largest industries in the world. Japan has been in the top three of the countries with most cars manufactured since the 1960s, surpassing Germany. The automotive industry in Japan rapidly increased from the 1970s to the 1990s and in the 1980s and 1990s, overtook the U.S. as the production leader with up to 13 million cars per year manufactured and significant exports. Japan became the world’s first at 1980 to 1993, 2006 to 2008 largest automobile manufacturer and exporter.
Cars designed in Japan have also won the European Car of the Year, International Car of the Year, and World Car of the Year awards several times.
Japan is home to a number of companies that produce cars, construction vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs and engines. Japanese automotive manufacturers include Toyota, Honda, Daihatsu, Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Isuzu, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Mitsuoka.
Toyota Motor Corporation, headquartered in Toyota, Aichi, Japan, is now a multinational corporation. It is the 12th largest company in the world by revenue. Toyota is also the world’s first automobile manufacturer to produce more that 10 million vehicles per year in 2012 followed in 2013 until March 2014 when it tops with 10.23 million sales making it the no. 1 in three years in terms of sales. As of July 2014, Toyota was the largest listed company in Japan by market capitalization.
Successful Japanese cars in PH
Some Japanese cars have been especially successful in the Philippines based on their price, reliability and their impact on the customers.
Honda’s entry level sedan serves as an affordable alternative to the larger Civic. A popular college car in the country, Honda City is known for its low maintenance and good fuel efficiency. Likewise, Honda Civic grew bigger and features more comforts. One of the pioneers of the compact SUV segment is the Honda CR-V. It won the hearts of many Filipinos due to its affordable pricing.
In 1997, Isuzu’s Hi-Lander was the best seller in the country. It was replaced by the Crosswind, a full SUV, in 2001.
Mitsubishi Adventure is Mitsubishi’s best selling vehicle in the Philippines until the Montero Sport took the title in 2009. Meanwhile, the Lancer was the first truly the futuristic car available in the Philippines while Lancer Evolution was popular among racing enthusiasts for its “go-kart, sharp handling.” The former van of the Philippines, the Mitsubishi L300 became popular in the late 80s to late 90s. In late 2012, the Mistubishi Mirage became the brand’s fastest-selling car of 2012 and 2013.
Since its debut in late 2011, the Suzuki Celerio has become the brand’s bestseller due to its stylish design and fuel-efficient 1.0 liter straight-three engine.
Beginning with the Toyota Corolla E90 model introduced in 1989, this flagship compact sedan has been a permanent staple in the country’s automotive industry. The E101 series of 1993 to 1997 is the second most widely used Corolla model on the road but was beatedn by the new Corolla Altis series 2001-2008 by a small margin. Filipinos have found Toyota Corolla to meet their conflicting demands.
Since its launched in 2005, the Toyota Fortuner has become the country’s best selling sport-utility vehicle while Innova replaced Revo in mid-2005 as Toyota’s second best selling vehicle in the country after the Vios.
Also known as Toyota Kijang, Tamaraw was introduced in 1976 and invented the Asian Utility Vehicle segment of the automotive industry. The Toyota Tamaraw FX was a much improved version of the Tamaraw. In 1998, Revo variant of the Tamaraw FX was introduced and became successful.
As the answer to the popularity of the Honda City, Toyota introduced its Vios in 2003. It proved successful, not just because of its image and quality, but it was affordable to maintain and had low price. It was refreshed in 2005 and redesigned in 2007 in Toyota’s plant in Laguna. The Vios is currently Toyota’s best selling vehicle in the country.
How it started
Japanese zaibatsu (business conglomerates) began building their first automobiles in the middle to the late 1910s. The companies were able to do this by either designing their own trucks (the market for passenger vehicles in Japan at that time was small), or partnering with a European brand to produce and sell their cars in Japan under the license. For example, Isuzu partnered with Woiseley Motors (UK), and the Mitsubishi Model A was based upon the Fiat Tipo 3.
The demand for domestic trucks was greatly increased by the Japanese buildup to war before World War II, and thus caused many Japanese manufacturers to break out of their shells and design their own vehicles. In the 1970s Japan was the pioneer in robotics manufacturing vehicles.
Hatsudoki Seizo Co., Ltd. was established. It’s now called the Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd., the oldest Japanese car manufacturer, mostly known for its range of smaller models and off-road vehicles. Its headquarters are located in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture.
Kwaishinsha Motorcar Works was established. It’s now a multinational automobile manufacturer called Nissan Motor Company Ltd headquartered in Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Japan. The Renault-Nissan Alliance would be the world’s fourth largest automaker.
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s first car was introduced called Mitsubishi Model A, Japan’s first series-production automobile. An entirely hand-built seven-seater sedan based on the Fiat Tipo 3. It proved expensive compared to its American and European mass-produced rivals, and was discontinued in 1921 after only 22 had been built. A multinational automotive manufacturer headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan.
Isuzu’s first car was launched. Isuzu is a Japanese commercial vehicles and diesel engine manufacturing company headquartered in Tokyo. The company was founded in 1916 by the Japanese oil and gasoline manufacturer Tokyo Gas Company, which in 1934 fused with the carmaker and was renamed Isuzu, after the Isuzu river.
Gorham/Lila auto production was established. Jitsuyo Jidosha Seizo Co., founded by William R. Gorham, began building the Gorham and later the Lila. The company merged with Kwaishinsha in 1926 to form the DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co. which later evolved into Nissan Motors.
Otomo was built at the Hakuyosha Ironworks in Tokyo. It was a Japanese automobile built by Junya Toyokawa at the Hakuyosha Ironworks in Tokyo. It was meant to build upon his experimental Ales cars of 1921.
Mazda Mazdago by Toyo Kogyo Corp was launched. It was a three-wheeled open “truck” that resembled a motorcycle with an open wagon or truck bed. It was considered to be the first autorickshaw. It was the first vehicle manufactured by Mazda.
Ohta begins auto production with a 736 cc 4-cylinder engine. Ohta Jidosha was one of the largest Japanese automotive manufacturing companies that produced cars.
Toyota’s first passenger car (Toyota AA) was produced. Founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937 as a spinoff from his father’s company Toyota Industries, it created its first product, the Type A engine.
Prince Motor Company was a Japanese automobile manufacturer until its merger with Nissan in 1966. Prince began as the Tachikawa Aircraft Company, a manufacturer of various airplanes for the Japanese army in WWII.
Hino Motors starts auto production then merged into Toyota
Subaru’s first car (Subaru P-1) was produced. Subaru is the automobile manufacturing division of Japanese transportation conglometate Fuji Heavy Industries.
Suzuki’s first car (Suzulight) was introduced. Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation headquartered in Minami-ku, Hamamatsu.
Daihatsu’s first car (Daihatsu Midget) was launched.
Honda’s first production car (Honda S500) was introduced.
One of the best selling cars of all time, the Toyota Corolla, was introduced
Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) was founded
Mazda Cosmo 110S was one of first two mass-produced cars with Wankel rotary engine
Japan surpassed the United States and became first in auto manufacturing
Honda Accord becomes the first Japanese car built in the United States at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio manufacturing facility
Mitsuoka 1st car (BUBU shuttle 50) was introduced.
Holden and Nissan form a joint venture in Australia; Nissan Sunny (Sentra) assembled at Nissan’s Smryna, Tennessee facility
Toyota opens NUMMI, the first joint venture plant in the United States with General Motors
Acura was launched in the US by Honda
Daihatsu enters the US making it the first time all nine Japanese manufacturers are present; Toyota Camry becomes third Japanese car manufactured at Toyota’s Erlanger, Kentucky assembly plant
Lexus was launched in the US by Toyota
Infiniti was launched in the US by Nissan
United Australian Automobile Industries (UAAI) founded in Australia as a joint venture between Toyota and Holden
Mazda HR-X was one of the first hydrogen (combined with Wankel rotary) car
Japan conceded to the United States back in auto manufacturing
Toyota Prius was the first mass-produced hybrid car
Scion was launched by Toyota
Japan surpassed the United States and became first in auto manufacturing again
Toyota surpassed General Motors to become the world’s largest car manufacturer
Japan was beat by China and became second in auto manufacturing