Worlds Apart? Domestic and Global Strategies of Japanese Automobile Manufactures for Spreading Ecological Cars

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2019)


Ecologic vehicles, Japan


As presented at last year’s Sao Paolo Symposium, the Japanese car market and industry have undergone quite considerable changes over the past 10 years, in particular the domestic market has profoundly changed towards low emission (next generation) vehicles and with that the strategies of Japan’s manufacturers have changed as well.

However, no matter how important and interesting Japan and its automobile industry might be, a sole perspective on Japan might be at least too narrow, if not even misleading. Japan in many respects is a very peculiar case in the global automobile industry because of several reasons:

  •  Many standards and regulations (including test requirements or efficiency standards) apply only in Japan.
  •  Very special institutional arrangements led to the development of market segments (mini-vehicle - kei - market) or strong preferences for certain propulsion technologies (Hybrid cars) that not exist in other developed markets.
  • The complete absence of foreign competitors producing domestically in Japan, which is singular in the whole industry.

Given the global development dynamics, even for Japanese manufacturers, the domestic market more and more becomes an exceptional case on the one hand, on the other hand, however, Japan maintains or even increases its importance for these very manufacturers as a production location particular for global exports.

Against this background the paper will with a strong emphasis on ecological car strategies look at national (Japanese) and international policies of the main Japanese automobile producing companies with respect to production, product strategies, local production, exports and employment. The paper approaches this questions not applying a short-term analysis, but a long-term account of changes that have taken place in the Japanese automobile industry since the beginning of the millennium. These will be underlined by some analysis of financial performance and stock market value of Japanese companies, which not only might give some background information on recent events intensively covered by mass media in Japan and abroad (keyword: Nissan), but also on the viability of ecological strategies of Japanese manufacturers worldwide more broadly.

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