Volkswagen-led Automobile Imports Climb in Japan to Record Share

Overseas carmakers led by Volkswagen AG delivered more vehicles in Japan in the first 11 months of this year than in all of 2012, expanding their record share of the world’s third-biggest auto market.

Registrations of imported passenger cars from foreign brands rose 16.3 percent from a year earlier to 246,915 vehicles in the January-November period, the Japan Automobile Importers Association said in a statement on its website today. That expanded their market share to a record 9.3 percent, according to the association.

Foreign automakers are boosting deliveries on Toyota Motor Corp.’s home turf this year, while Japanese carmakers’ domestic sales have declined. Volkswagen’s refreshed Golf hatchback won this year’s Car of the Year award in Japan, the first imported model to receive the accolade in its 34-year history. Half of the models placing in the top 10 were by overseas brands, including the Mini Paceman from Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, based on a Car of the Year Japan Association poll of auto journalists.

“The appeal of import cars is in their design and brand recognition, and I think the fact that they’re coming out with smaller models more fit for the Japanese market is helping growth,” said Yoshiaki Kawano, a Tokyo-based analyst at IHS Automotive. “Their market share can still grow.”

Deliveries for Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen, the biggest overseas brand in Japan, increased 18 percent while Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, the second-biggest importer, rose 32 percent.

“There’s many reasons for why sales of foreign brands are growing in Japan, but it shows that foreign brands are now able to compete at an equal level,” Sumito Ishii, managing director for General Motors Co.’s Japan business, said in Tokyo yesterday. “The import car market should continue to grow.”

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