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Cars of Japan

The car industry in Japan is dominant and one of the largest in the world. Since the 1960s, Japan has always been one of the top three countries with the most cars manufactured. The country ramped things up in the 70s and 80s and started taking worldwide export seriously. So much so, in the 80s and 90s it overtook the US as leading car manufacturer.

Japan is currently ranked third largest car producer in the world and turns over 9.9 automobiles annually. To top it off, Japanese cars scoop up awards like they’re going out of season, with accolades including International Car of the Year and World Car of the Year. Here are a few of our favourite Japanese car manufacturers.


When it comes to car manufacturers, Toyota is one of the big boys. In fact, it was announced earlier this year that Toyota is the number one manufacturer for vehicles worldwide, ahead of industry powerhouses General Motors and Volkswagen. The stats for Toyota in 2013 were 9.98 million, almost becoming the first brand to achieve 10 million. Toyota is a great example of the success of the Japanese car manufacturing industry.


Founded in 1911 by creator Masujiro Hashimoto, Nissan produced its first car in 1914 – a DAT. But since 1999 things took a significantly French turn. Nissan partnered up with French automaker Renault. Now Renault has a 43.4% voting stake in Nissan and Nissan a 15% non-voting stake in Renault. Nissan ranked 6th largest automaker in 2013 and is currently the most popular Japanese brand in China, Russia and Mexico. Interestingly, Nissan choose to sell their cars under a variety of names including Infiniti, Datsun and NISMO.


A division of Japanese car manufacturer Toyota, Lexus is the luxury baby that is now Japan’s bestselling make of premium cars.

Lexus was born out of a super-secret project named F1, which started in 1983 and resulted in the launch of the Lexus L2 In 1989. Soon they added the sedan, coupe, convertible and SUV model. Still, it wasn’t until 2005 that the brand existed in Japan!


Mazda was named the fifteenth largest car manufacturer worldwide in 2011. The stats for 2007 showed that 1 million of the 1.3 million produced vehicles were produced in Japan as well, making it a truly Japanese manufacturer.

The zany name comes from Ahura Mazda, a god from the earliest civilisations in Perisa who promotes wisdom, intelligence and harmony. It is mentioned on the company’s website the name also took inspiration from the company’s founder, Jujiro Matsuda.


Honda is the second largest Japanese auto manufacturer, after Toyota. It is also not only a car manufacturer, but the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and has been since 1959! Honda was the first Japanese car manufacturer to create a luxury brand with the introduction of Acura in 1986. As well as running a hugely successful and popular car business, Honda also produces power generators, garden equipment and watercraft items, to mention a few - talk about diversification!

Offbeat  27/03/2015 09:16:23

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