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Japanese Automakers Back on Track, Edmunds.com Reports

March 13, 2012

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Edmunds.com reported that Japanese car manufacturers are finally back on track in the United States one year after the March 11, 2011, earthquakes that struck Japan.

The website reported that the market share for Japan’s top automakers — most notably Toyota and Honda — are back to pre-earthquake levels following a year of supply shortages and increased prices for some of the most popular vehicles.

“The March 11 earthquake and tsunamis revealed the vulnerabilities of Japan and its once-invincible automotive industry,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Edmunds.com. “But as humbling as the business fallout was in the weeks and months after the disaster, a lot of credit is due to top company executives who resourcefully restored business operations to ‘normal’ levels in less than a year.”

Japanese automakers did not feel the full business impact of the earthquake until the summer of 2011, according to Edmunds.com. During this time, market share and retention rates bottomed out at 12-month lows to the benefit of U.S., European and South Korean carmakers.

Japanese market share in the U.S. fell from 38.5 percent last February to 30.1 percent in June. The rate of customers trading in Japanese vehicles for other Japanese vehicles followed a similar trend.

As much as Japan struggled to maintain market share last summer, it also fought to reign in pricing, which rose quickly as a result of dwindling supply. From February to June, the average transaction price of a Japanese vehicle climbed $813, or 3.1 percent, to $27,239, Edmunds.com reported.

South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia prices also climbed more than three percent in this period, but their increases were due to brand momentum, as demonstrated by their significant market share growth. In the same period, average European brand prices climbed just 0.3 percent, while average American brand prices fell 0.9 percent.

By the end of last month, Japanese brands had almost fully rebounded to pre-earthquake levels, according to Edmunds.com. Japanese market share and trade-in loyalty are each less than one percentage point shy from where they stood last February. And the average transaction price for Japanese vehicles is back under $27,000 for the first time since the middle of last year.

“We quickly learned how strong and resilient the Japanese people and Japanese companies really are,” Krebs said. “Their automotive brands could have been down even longer, if not for the perseverance and hard work to get their plants up and running again.”

 

Market Share and Trade-in Loyalty by Brand Origin

 

 

Market Share

 

Purchase After Japanese Trade-Ins

Origin

 

11-Feb

 

11-Jun

 

12-Feb

 

11-Feb

 

11-Jun

 

12-Feb

Japan

 

38.5%

 

30.1%

 

37.8%

 

74.5%

 

69.8%

 

73.9%

USA

 

46.2%

 

50.3%

 

45.4%

 

15.9%

 

17.2%

 

14.5%

Europe

 

6.8%

 

8.6%

 

7.6%

 

4.5%

 

6.0%

 

4.8%

S.Korea

 

7.7%

 

9.9%

 

8.4%

 

5.1%

 

7.0%

 

6.8%

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