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Japan Opens its Clunkers Program to U.S. Autos

A largely symbolic move reverses ban of offshore makers.

by on Jan.19, 2010

The Cadillac CTS is one of a few Detroit cars likely to gain sales under a new Japanese Clunkers program.

Bowing to heavy pressure, Japanese government regulators have lifted rules that would have barred American automakers from participating in that country’s own version of the Cash for Clunkers program.

The rules were seen as adding insult to injury considering that Japan has largely been closed to foreign makers, who have never been able to capture more than a tiny sliver of the Japanese market.

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Asian importers reacted angrily, a year ago, when the U.S. Congress first considered adding rules to the American clunkers program that might have restricted sales of imports.  Ultimately, Japanese brands accounted for 319,000 of the 677,000 vehicles sold through the program, formally known as the Cash Allowance Rebate System, or CARS.

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Japan Excludes Imports in its Own Clunker Program

U.S. makers cite “outright discrimination.”

by on Dec.11, 2009

Toyota alone captured nearly 20% of the cars sold through the American Cash for Clunkers program, but Japanese lawmakers have excluded American vehicles from their own Clunkers program.

Toyota alone captured nearly 20% of the cars sold through the American Cash for Clunkers program, but Japanese lawmakers have excluded American vehicles from their own Clunkers program.

Like much of the developed world, Japan has been struggling to reverse an economic downturn that has hit hard its long-ailing auto industry.  Sales will barely top 5 million, this year, off nearly half from the country’s one-time car sale peak.

But there have been some signs of life in the wake of recent government incentives, and Japanese auto industry leaders are particularly upbeat about their prospects in light of a new program similar to the federally-funded Cash for Clunkers campaign that sent demand soaring, in the U.S., over the summer.

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There’s one big problem, foreign makers contend, citing what they call “outright discrimination.”  The Japanese program is designed specifically to assist home market manufacturers, effectively locking out struggling importers who, for the most part, have long been able to crack the Japanese market.

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