Why aren’t U.S. cars popular in Japan?

Instead, the problem is in large part that American car dealers have been hesitant to invest in the kind of dealer network that consumers like Shujiro Urata have come to expect. “The way Japanese consumers buy cars is very different,” Deborah Elms, the executive director of the Asian Trade Center, told me. “Yet the Americans have not invested in a dealer network to break into the market.” Indeed, Ford pulled out of Japan, where it had sold only 5,000 cars annually, last year. General Motors only has 28 dealerships in Japan, and sold about 1,000 cars there in 2016…

Japanese customers also expect to receive services like free maintenance from their dealers after they buy their cars, Urata said. When their cars need a check-up, the dealer comes and picks them up, does work on them, and then returns them. American dealers don’t offer such services. “Developing this network is expensive, and maintaining it is expensive, and that’s one reason U.S. car makers decided to withdraw,” he told me.