Jeep Is by Far the Hottest American Brand in Japan

Japan is a notoriously tough market for non-Japanese automakers, but Jeep is bucking the trend.

Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Japanese drivers really like Japanese cars. The people of Japan are so loyal to their home market that they mostly only defect from Japanese cars if they’re in the market for something exotic or high-end. 

For example, Ferrari outsells Chevy, Lamborghini outsells Cadillac, and Ford recently pulled out of Japan altogether. Even bringing the Mustang to Japan for the first time just couldn’t get Japanese drivers excited about Ford.

However, there’s one exception to this rule: Jeep. Automotive News reports that while still selling a rather low volume compared with Japanese competition, the iconic off-road brand has moved 6,344 units from the beginning of January 2017 through August. By comparison, the next most successful Detroit car brand in Japan is Chevy, having only sold 373 vehicles in the same time frame. Jeep’s sales in Japan have risen 6.9 percent in the first three months of 2017 putting making it the seventh most successful import brand to Japan.

A couple particularly successful Jeeps in Japan are the Renegade and the Wrangler. Japan likes the Renegade because of its compact size, making it good for narrow roads, and Japan is the fourth-biggest market in the world for the Wrangler.

So why does Japan like Jeep so much? The main reason is that Jeep is actively working to cater to the Japanese market. Jeep offers all of its models in right-hand-drive, tweaks drivetrains to meet eco-car incentives, offers Japanese navigation systems, and is generous with folding side mirrors which are handy for Japan’s tight parking spots. 

Jeep doesn’t just ship SUVs to its Japanese dealers hoping that they’ll catch on. Jeep teaches its products to speak Japanese and it’s paying off.