Japan Spins Its Wheels

Its carmakers are still struggling against Europe's spiffier models

On Europe's well-paved highways, the rumble of competition is getting louder. Fueled by a weak yen, Japan's carmakers are grabbing market share this year after a long slump. Just 15 months before restrictive import quotas expire, the number of cars shipped from Japan has spiked by 26%. Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Co. are mulling big expansions. Toyota alone could more than triple its European production, to some 420,000 cars a year, by early next century. The long-awaited, all-out Japanese onslaught is about to run Europe's carmakers into a ditch, right?

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