The Japanese automotive market tallied 9,630,070 vehicle sales in 2013. It’s the third-largest car market in the entire world, behind China and the United States. And it seems like everybody would be benefiting from the volume in this region, but General Motors is practically nonexistent.
Of that total figure, GM vehicles accounted for just 1,200 sales last year. And while some would lay the blame on import vehicle tariffs, you may be surprised to learn that there aren’t any. And according to Automotive News, it appears that America’s largest automaker is shooting itself in the foot from not offering enough right-hand-drive models. One large Japanese dealer criticizes it as a “lack of effort.”
GM currently sells Cadillac and Chevrolet models in The Land of the Rising Sun. Chevy only offers the small Sonic hatchback and Captiva crossovers with RHD, while Cadillac presents none. In fact, Cadillac doesn’t sell a single RHD model anywhere in the world.
Though to be fair, it’s not like GM doesn’t build RHD vehicles in other regions of the Earth. But big Holden sedans probably wouldn’t do much for GM’s sales in the region, and building and shipping them up from Australia doesn’t sound very cost effective. GM’s South African operations produce mostly trucks — Isuzu trucks, mind you — and Vauxhall’s small cars built in England would only enter an overcrowded market segment.
If General Motors wants to run away with annual sales crowns, it seems that the missing link could be Japan. But right now, dealers can do nothing but remain optimistic.