Most reliable car brands sold in Japan

Toyota, Honda and a few other Japanese auto manufacturers have for many years ranked very high on Consumer Reports list of most-reliable cars sold in the U.S. How about in Japan? Is there a similarly compiled list? Is it generally populated by the same companies or are there significant differences?

JD Power does surveys in Japan. Here are the Initial Quality Study and Vehicle Dependability Study for 2018.

The most obvious difference is, the top brand for initial quality in Japan is Daihatsu. And of the top rated cars for the 4 segments, 3 aren’t sold in the US. I think 1 or 2 of those segments don’t even exist in the US.

Daihatsu is one of several Japanese or Korean manufacturers that have tried unsuccessfully to break into the U.S. market. It also has mostly failed in Europe and Australia. Toyota now controls Daihatsu.

And the minicar segment, where Daihatsu is popular, has been, at best, a very small niche in the U.S. for any manufacturer.

I first rode in a Daihatsu in 1982ish and they were definitely not high quality.

My ex-MIL had one that I drove sometimes from 1989 to 2000 and it was not impressive.

The “Kei” (light) cars have come a long ways in quality and performance, as well as price.

Thanks. Do no US companies sell cars in Japan or do they just perform very poorly?
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GM actually sold the Chevy Caviler in Japan from 1996-2000. It was actually badged as a Toyota Caviler. They also sold the Saturn S Series over there for a while. I believe neither sold particularly well.

Ford left the Japanese market in 2016 due to poor profitability.

GM’s sales in Japan are apparently very small (this article indicates they sold all of 1200 vehicles in 2013).

In 2017, Fiat was considering pulling the Chrysler brand out of Japan (I don’t know if they wound up doing so or not); in 2016, they sold only 283 Chryslers in Japan. This article indicates that Jeep is the best-selling American marque in Japan, though that’s relative – the article notes that Jeep sales for the first 8 months of 2017 were all of 6344 units.

I have read that “J.D. Power” is somewhat of a scam that sells their awards. So if you are Junko Jalopy conpany you cannpay JD Powers money and they give you an award and you can tell your customers that you have the best cars and here is the trophy to prove it.

There’s a bit of truth to this but your conclusion is a bit distorted. J.D. Power and Associates is a company that performs surveys and gathers information on customer satisfaction, buying behavior, and product ratings. They then sell that information to the businesses they collect information on. For example, if they determine that the new Ford F-150 truck is extremely popular among certain demographics they can then sell that info to Ford who can then use that information to create a more efficient marketing strategy. If they find that people hate the steering qualities of a new Suzuki hybrid car, Suzuki would like to know that so they can improve that performance. They gather info on automobile manufacturers and also on marketing and advertising firms, and also other industries like cell phone manufacturers, home builders, utility companies, and so on. The auto makers seem to be the main ones who use those rankings (as “awards”) to advertise though, so that’s what most people associate the company with.

That selling of information is where they get the majority of their income. They rely on the accuracy and reputation of their information to stay in business. It would be counter-productive for them to lie about that info so that a customer could claim that they got a high ranking. If Chevy pays them cash to get the #1 ranking, they’re going to lose the business of all of Chevy’s ticked off competitors.

Now, the bit of truth I alluded to is that if a company wants to advertise the J.D. Power rankings that their product received, they need to pay a licensing fee. If you don’t pay the fee then you don’t have permission to cite them. That is a way the company makes money but those awards are mostly a byproduct of their survey analysis and aren’t the purpose of their research. If J.D. Power says that consumers think you have the worst product and tell you why, you’re certainly not going to advertise their “Raspberry Award” but that’s still valuable info you’d be tempted to purchase.

So yes, in a sense you do have to pay them to be able to advertise a good ranking and so in a way you’re buying awards. But they’re not getting bribed to say a company has a good product.

And, further, if J.D. Power were actually selling rankings (i.e., if you could pay, and get Power to declare that your brand got the top ranking), when that information became public (and, rest assured, that’d be a “when,” not an “if”), Power’s reputation, and thus, their entire business, would be destroyed overnight.

Exactly this. One of my clients (a major regional health insurance company) was named the top insurer in its region by J.D. Power last year. Power told my clients that they could mention this fact in their advertising, for a fairly substantial licensing fee; my clients quickly decided that it wasn’t worth it.

I keep my commuter cars until they absolutely have no more life left because I despise car payments and can do my own repairs when necessary. When my cars reach end of life they are worth pretty much zero. So JD Power or consumer reports critiques mean squat. They care about metrics that don’t extend past 100k miles, things such as production volume(this means an abundance of cheap repair parts). Sure, if you buy a new car every ~8 years the fact that the power windows are problematic may be important to you, but I’m more concerned whether the transmission will last 400k miles of neglect, and the CVT’s offered by most will not. Consumer Reports and JD Power won’t give me a 90’s GM W body that I can milk for years on the cheap.

Looking here, it gives the total number of cars, trucks and busses sold in Japan. I didn’t quickly find anything with just non-commercial vehicles. The only difference will be the percentage of the car market would be a little higher than these numbers. The top ranked brand is Toyota with almost 30%.

The highest ranked foreign manufacturer is the 12th place Mercedes with only 17,385 sold in the first quarter this year, 1.1% of the vehicle market. It would be a little higher percent of the passenger vehicle market, but it’s still very small.

There are many reasons for foreign cars not selling well in Japan. If I had time to write an essay then I could go over some of them.

For one thing, American luxury cars are mostly too damn big for crowded Japanese streets. Toyota, Honda, etc. have decades of experience in building luxury models in smaller sizes. Even Mercedes makes luxurious small cars. Name an American-brand luxury car the size of a Toyota Corolla, or even a Camry.

The Chinese, however, do not have any experience in making luxury cars of any type. That’s one reason Cadillac, and especially Buick, have made inroads in China.