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History of Japanese Automobile Industry

Japan’s automotive industry is ranked as the third-largest producer of vehicles. The industry manufactures some of the finest vehicles.

Out of all the vehicle manufacturers, Toyota is the largest car manufacturer in Japan. It has produced some of the finest cars to date. And it has produced the world’s first-ever all-electric sedan and some of the best hatchbacks vehicles. Honda, Mazda, Yamaha, and Nissan are some of the finest automobile industries.

You can even buy second-hand Japanese vehicles from a Japan car auction if you plan to buy a vehicle. Today, if you cannot afford a brand new vehicle, you should go to a car auction. They are very common because buyers can find a quality vehicle if they look for it.

If you are interested in reading about the history of the Japanese automobile industry, then dive in!

About Japanese Automobile Industry

In the early 19th century, Japan was introduced to western technology and industry with the arrival of Matthew Perry’s naval fleet. In 1872, the first railway service started as a part of Seiko Group’s expansion plan for their mining business.

This railway connected Shimbashi and Yokohama, and the idea of railway gave the idea of manufacturing vehicles for the purpose of traveling. Over the years, this trend continued, and successful entrepreneurs emerged, including Sakichi Toyoda, who founded a company for textile machines in 1891, later to be known as Toyota Group.

It all started when Komanosuke Uchiyama manufactured the very first Japanese car in 1907. Soon after that, several manufacturers made their way to the automobile industry.

Later, Toyota started manufacturing vehicles and became the biggest vehicle manufacturer whose origins lie in the weaving industry of Japan and was founded in 1937. It is the second-largest car manufacturer in the world after Volkswagen. After the establishment of the Loom Company, it is safe to say that the automotive industry of Japan started to function properly. In 1934, it opened a technical department for car design and production.

This company’s first vehicle was the “A” type of passenger car launched in 1936. It was built on the platform of American Austin 7, which was famous among the people. People started preferring their vehicles over their machinery, so the company started to manufacture more vehicles.

The next vehicle was the SA type, considered the first truly original car designed and developed by Toyota. It had a pressed steel body with three cylinders, a 4-speed gearbox, and hydraulic brakes.

Break Through

During the 1930s, Nissan Group entered the auto industry by building trucks, but they did not enter the passenger car market until after World War II. On the other hand, Toyota entered the truck market in 1933 and the passenger car market five years later. In 1947, following World War, Japan’s production was only 6% of the pre-war US level. During these tough times, Japan’s economy faced a hard time, and the government implemented protectionist vehicle policies, including heavy import taxes, gasoline rationing, forced savings schemes, and investment subsidies.

Thus, the automobile industry knew its potential and manufactured some of the finest vehicles.  This resulted in the rapid growth of Japan’s automobile industry. To date, the automobile industry of Japan is producing excellent quality vehicles, and the economy of the country is considered to be the strongest due to the automobile industry.

There are several automobile companies such as Honda, Daihatsu, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota are some of the top ones. Toyota launched its prototype vehicle, “Toyoda Model AA,” in 1947. Their first vehicle used a 3-cylinder engine and pressed steel chassis straight from the production line. In 1950, Toyota launched its second model, “Toyoda Model SA,” which became a very popular model in Japan because of its low price and superior fuel efficiency compared to other cars available in the market during that time.

Japanese Automaker’s Struggle

In 1955, Japan’s automobile industry was again hit with recession due to increased import tariffs. Companies, including Toyota, had to cope with the financial crisis and reduce their production.

Then later, in 1960, Japan’s automobile industry started expanding to overseas markets by exporting cars to European countries. This trend continued, and by 1964, 1 million vehicles were being exported from Japan every year.

Thus, this helped the economy of Japan to rise. 1967, the oil crisis resulted in the rapid expansion of the Japanese auto industry as companies entered into energy-saving technologies like smaller displacement engines, turbo engines, and electric engines in their new models. During these times, Honda entered into motorcycle industry in 1959 while Nissan entered the large car market with its new model “Bluebird,” which became a huge success in the US market.

Economic Condition

This was followed by a massive expansion in the Japanese economy during the 1980s resulting in the overproduction of automobiles. It led to the yen’s devaluation against the dollar. This made Japanese cars more expensive for foreign customers and forced car manufacturers like Honda, Toyota, and Nissan to reduce exports.

On the other hand, this new development of technologies changed the course of the automobile industry as the automobile industry started using advanced tech features. Automakers had to enter Western markets using new technologies and special features that were not available in Japanese models. In the latter half of the 1990s, Japanese companies acquired more expertise by investing heavily worldwide, including the US market.

In 2001, a devastating natural disaster struck Japan called “the Great East Japan earthquake,” which resulted in widespread damage to almost all sectors of the economy, including the automobile industry. Thus, this event set the new trend for Japanese automakers to produce more fuel-efficient cars with reduced emissions and environmentally friendly technologies like hybrids and electric engines.

Many car manufacturers also started hiring cheap labor from China and the Philippines to reduce production costs instead of full-time workers in Japan. Soon afterward, the trend was shifting again with increasing consumer demand for luxurious cars of the latest technology. Manufacturers were also planning to start producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which was an energy-efficient technology with zero-emission.

Today’s Automobile Industry

However, Japanese automakers are still able to maintain their top position in export markets by reducing production costs and developing efficient technologies. Moreover, the industry is well managed because the demands of the consumers are always me. There is no country that doesn’t buy vehicles from Japan.

Today, Japan’s automobile industry is one of the most developed industries that produce more than 1000 cars, motorcycles, and auto parts. The attractive and innovative designs and the use of the latest technologies. Japan’s share in motor vehicle production is only second to China, while it ranks first in the production of motorcycles. Japan’s automobile industry produces more than 10 million cars and light vehicles per year. Making it the country the four largest car manufacturer in the world.

The Japanese automobile industry is working hard to manufacture premium vehicles that are in demand to promote its industry. Hence, the automobile industry is the major industry that has strengthened Japan’s economy. For the past three decades, the industry has produced almost three million vehicles.

Toyota has an interesting history because it started the production of looms and not vehicles. But, today, it tops the list of the best automobile manufacturers in Japan. The future of its automobile industry is very bright as the industry has already started to produce advanced vehicles.

The company, without a doubt, has achieved the highest levels of manufacturing efficiency. Despite being a big name, the company produced reliable and cost-efficient vehicles, so buying a good vehicle is no hassle.

Final Thoughts

Over time, the consumers’ demand changed, and people preferred fuel-efficient and reliable vehicles. The Japanese automobile industry knew that it had to produce the vehicles per the consumers’ demand. Hence, they kept using the latest technologies to produce worthy cars as the demands of the consumers were increasing.

The history of Japan’s automobile industry is quite interesting as, despite the struggles it faced, the industry kept on manufacturing premium vehicles. It has gone a long way, and today Japanese cars are considered to be the finest because of the premium features. The production of vehicles is not stopped despite the development struggles.

If you plan to buy a good vehicle, you should buy a Japanese vehicle.

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