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June 19, 2003

JAPAN: Buyer habits rather than trade barriers hinder foreign vehicle sales, DaimlerChrysler chief says

The head of Japanese operations at German car maker DaimlerChrysler AG reportedly said that obstacles to selling foreign cars in Japan are more about people's habits than about trade barriers, according to Bloomberg News.

By bcusack

The head of Japanese operations at German car maker DaimlerChrysler AG reportedly said that obstacles to selling foreign cars in Japan are more about people’s habits than about trade barriers, according to Bloomberg News.

“The Japanese market is as open as it could be. What we are struggling with is what I’d call consumer habits,” the news agency quoted Hans Tempel, president and chief executive of DaimlerChrysler Japan Holding, as saying.

In Japan, minivans account for as much as 30% of sales, in contrast to about 10% in the US and European markets, making it difficult for European vehicle makers to sell other types of vehicles in Japan, Tempel reportedly said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo.

Another obstacle is that emissions and other regulations on diesel engines in Japan differ from those in Europe, where most cars run on diesel fuel, Bloomberg News said.

Diesels make up a tiny fraction of car sales in Japan, and imports account for just 6% of cars sold there, Bloomberg News noted.

According to the news agency, Tempel said DaimlerChrysler is working with the Japanese government to develop regulations for new types of technology to try to get standards that are more similar to those in Europe.

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