The automotive industry in Japan is the backbone of the country’s entire industry. It supports the rapid development of the economy by releasing products for supply abroad. Leading factories are scattered across the main cities: they are located in Ota, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Hamamatsu, Taeta, Shizuka, and Hiroshima. A special leap took place in the 60s of the last century, called the Japanese economic miracle. Then there was a surge in production at Toyota, Suzuki, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and several others.
In the 1970s, Japanese entrepreneurs began exporting cars to the United States, which led to a conflict. However, its decision led to the intensification of the development of the automotive industry in Japan. As a result, by the end of the 80s, the Land of the Rising Sun produced almost 13 million cars, half of which were sent abroad. However, in the early 1990s, there was a recession in the industry, which ended in 2002. Now there are assembly branches of Japanese companies in most countries of the Asian region.
Mass Market Brands
The Japanese car industry’s mass market is represented by very old brands that have won wide demand among consumers. Toyota leads the list, which has become the most popular among Americans. In 2019, it ranked second in terms of sales in the world. Next up are brands like Honda, Nissan, and Subaru.
1 Toyota (1937-Present)
The automobile company, which appeared in 1937, specializes in a very wide range of transport technology, promoting hybrid models. Its founder is Kiichiro Toyoda, after whom it was named. Toyota Motor Corporation is headquartered in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. Moreover, this automaker was the first in the world to cross the border of 10 million cars a year, and in 2012 released its 200 millionth car.
Starting as a subsidiary of Toyota Industries, the Japanese auto giant has grown to an incredible size. He currently owns five brands under which he manufactures his passenger vehicles. These are Ranz, Hino, Daihatsu, Lexus, and Toyota of the same name.
2 Honda (1948-Present)
Honda Motor Company was founded by Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa, who introduced it to the Japanese car market in 1948. Having started its career with piston rings, the brand has gradually expanded to include a huge range of products, including passenger cars and other transportation equipment. By 2019, Honda was the sixth largest automaker in the world. Moreover, she became the first company to introduce the Acura luxury series (in 1986). Its headquarters are located in Minato, Tokyo Prefecture.
3 Subaru (1953-Present)
The division, founded by Kenji Kita in 1953, gradually developed into an independent unit, very significant in the structure of Fuji Heavy Industries (now Subaru Corporation). In 2017, it became the 21st car manufacturer internationally.
Today the brand is aimed at those who want a good drivetrain, a proprietary engine, four-wheel drive for cross-country driving. The brand also specializes in low-cost sports cars. The company’s name is symbolic: this is how the constellation Pleiades is called in Japan, including seven starts, one of which is invisible. The fact is that the enterprise merged with six other firms and formed a separate corporation.
4 Nissan (1933-Present)
The full name of this car manufacturer is Nissan Motor Company. Since 1933, he has specialized in transport equipment, currently producing mass-market passenger cars. Its founders are Masujiro Hashimoto and Yoshisuke Aikawa, and its headquarters are located in Nishi-Ku City, Yokohama Prefecture. The name is formed from the merger of two stems – Nihon Sangyo. This is the name the company used to wear, and it received its current name from the abbreviation given to it at the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The automaker currently produces passenger cars under three brands: Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun.
5 Mazda (1920-Present)
One of Japan’s oldest engineering companies originated in 1920 and is located in Fuchū City, Aki County (Hiroshima Prefecture). It was created on the initiative of the entrepreneur Jujiro Matsuda, from whom it got its name. Japanese philosophy also played a huge role in branding since the name used the deity Ahura Mazda image, personifying wisdom, intelligence, and light.
At first, the company was not focused on cars – it switched to them later, in 1931. After the revitalization of production and the attraction of qualified specialists, the brand became recognizable worldwide, as it quickly began to export deliveries of passenger cars.
6 Mitsubishi (1970-Present)
This brand also represents the category of mass-market cars. It appeared in 1970 as a division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Then the company grew into a large enterprise and reached the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. It belongs to the German corporation Daimler AG, and its head office is located in the city of Minato near Tokyo. In 2011, Mitsubishi was ranked sixth in the ranking of Japanese automakers.
7 Suzuki (1909-Present)
Suzuki’s career started at the beginning of the 20th century – in 1909, called Suzuki Loom Works and produced looms. Despite the success, the manufacturer decided to retrain to keep up with the times. For this, he chose the automotive industry.
In 1937, a new project was launched, within which several innovative passenger cars were released. Today, the brand represents a wide range of transportation products, including off-road vehicles, motorcycles, 4WD, and road vehicles. In terms of sales, this Japanese company ranks third in the domestic market and tenth in the international market.
Luxury car brands
The segment of Japanese luxury cars is a special category of passenger vehicles. After all, manufacturers value, first of all, the high-tech stuffing, which makes their machines unsurpassed. They care about human comfort and only then about design and what’s under the hood. For them, in the first place – electronics and increased functionality of the car, everything else – in the second. This can be seen by examining the list of luxury cars, including Lexus, Infiniti, Acura, Toyota Crown, and Mitsuoka.
1 Lexus (1983-Present)
Eiji Toyoda, an entrepreneur, founded the brand in 1983 with headquarters in Nagoya, operations centers in Brussels, Belgium, and in the American Plano, Texas. Today branded cars are in demand in over 70 countries around the world. Lexus products are also highly valued domestically, being the most demanded in Japan. The manufacturer is in the top 10 largest international companies in terms of market value. The list of manufactured models includes an SUV, a convertible, a coupe, a sedan, and in 2005, a hybrid version also appeared.
2 Acura (1986-Present)
Along with Lexus and Infiniti, this is the youngest representative of the luxury class. It originated in 1986 and has provided the United States and Canada with the finest examples of the Japanese auto industry ever since. Its products are also in high demand in Hong Kong, Mexico, China, and Russia. The range includes powerful and heavy-duty vehicles as well as luxury models.
The company introduced its first flagship car, the Legend, in the late 1980s. Its success forced competitors to create something similar urgently. In the early 2000s, the brand introduced new models to the market, among which the unique MDX SUV stood out. It was presented in two versions – RSX and TSX, which replaced the Integra coupe and sedan.
3 Infiniti (1989-Present)
This representative of luxury brands also appeared in the late 90s of the last century – in 1986. It is founded by Bill Bruce and is located in the Hong Kong city of Wan Chai and is called Infiniti Global Limited. The brand belongs to Nissan, being its division. In 2012, the manufacturer announced its intention to switch to the production of electric vehicles. As a result, in 2021, all of its cars will be either fully electric or hybrid. Outside of Japan, the company made the first-ever luxury car, the QX60, formerly known as the JX35.
4 Toyota Сrown (1955–Present)
This is one of the oldest representatives of the luxury class, which has existed since 1955. The brand belongs to Toyota and represents a special category of passenger cars – E (Executive car). It mainly includes medium-sized sedans, capturing the Japanese market and the markets of other Asian countries. The most popular among buyers from other countries is the Toyota Store car: it is in demand as a government motorcade.
5 Mitsuoka (1968-Present)
This brand dates back to 1968 and is the official distributor of the TD2000 retro roadsters in Japan. Also, the automaker deals with serial brands. He replaces their elements with his own, non-standard variations, so the brand is known for cars with an unconventional design, imitating the style of the original British cars of the 50-60s. The company also launched its Orochi sports car and is the main distributor of classic roadsters.
Japan is a well-known manufacturer of large-tonnage equipment because a small country requires a lot of effort to survive. As a result, there is high popularity of heavy cargoes of various categories, which successfully replace human labor. Their capabilities are so enormous that Japanese trucks are in demand all over the world. After all, they are hardy, durable, and high-tech. Among the most famous brands: Hino, Datsun, Isuzu, UD.
1 Hino (1942-Present)
The leading company in the production of heavy, medium, and light tonnage equipment appeared in 1942 in Hino-shi near Tokyo. It is part of the Toyota Group and is a subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Corporation. Having started with trucks’ manufacture, today this company also produces buses, which it also exports abroad. It is currently the second-largest heavy equipment supplier in Japan.
2 Isuzu (1934-Present)
This company appeared in 1916 and was relaunched in 1934 under the name Isuzu. It specializes in the production of medium-duty trucks, construction equipment, diesel engines, and buses. Moreover, she designs, assembles, and sells them all over the world. Today, the carmaker has assembly shops and manufacturing sites in several prefectures in Japan.
3 UD (1935-Present)
The full name of this trademark is UD Trucks Corporation. Its head office is located in Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, founded under the name Nissan Diesel. In 2010, the company received its current name, which stands for “Ultimate Dependability.” The rebranding was undertaken after the company transitioned to the Volvo Group’s jurisdiction, which fully owns it.
4 Datsun (1931-Present)
The year of the appearance of this trademark is 1931, and the location in Tokyo. The brand belongs to Nissan, which periodically cancels and renews it. In the period 1958-1986, cars intended for export abroad were marked this way. In 2013, the Datsun name was restored: this name was given to a series of inexpensive machines intended for supply to developing countries’ markets. The firm mainly manufactures economy class cars and small trucks.
In the Japanese automotive industry, there is a separate category of transport equipment, which stands out as an independent group for several reasons:
- This includes sports cars and high-speed cars.
- This segment is made up of high-performance equipment.
- Compact cars belong to this category.
They are represented by brands such as Nissan GT-R, Daihatsu, Nissan Nismo, and others.
1 Nissan Nismo (1984-Present)
The company was formed in September 1984 and is headquartered in Gap City. It emerged from the merger of two motorsport departments. Brand after its predecessor brand: Nissan Motorsport. The first word is taken from the first syllable, “Nis,” from the second – “Mo.” Sports cars participate in many international races, including Formula E, Blancpain GT Series, and Super GT.
2 Nissan GT-R (2007-Present)
This is the name of a luxury car model assembled by hand by the manufacturer Nissan Motor Company. It is the successor to the Skyline GT-R series passenger cars and was designed by Shiro Nakamura. The past high-speed sports car was called the Grand Tourer, the first character taken for the second name’s abbreviation. The brand appeared in 2007. Its location is Kaminokawa (Tochigi).
3 Daihatsu (1907-Present)
Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd is a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, which acquired it in 2016. The location of the brand is the city of Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture. The year of its appearance is 1907th. In the Japanese market, he manufactures small, extra compact, and subcompact cars known as “kei jidosha.” The arsenal of the enterprise also includes hybrid cars and 2-stroke diesel engines.
4 Autobacs (1947-Present)
The brand was founded in 1947 when Toshio Sumino founded it. It first appeared in Fukushima-Ku, Osaka Prefecture, and was named Fuji Syokai Co., Ltd. Then, her network expanded to several branches. It is a specialized auto parts and accessories store that sponsors the Japanese Grand Prix. It has many retail outlets in Asia and France.
5 Scion (2003-2016)
The company, founded in 2003, offered affordable, stylish, and compact vehicles. Moreover, each car was sold in a single configuration at a basic cost. The head office of the firm was located in Torrance, California (USA). In 2016, the brand was absorbed by the parent company Toyota, and it ceased to exist. The remaining car models were discontinued or renamed Toyotas.