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Complete Guide: What are Japanese Cars?

Japan has one of the most innovative and largest automotive industries the world has ever seen. The automotive industry ranks third after the United States and Germany. This industry has been among the largest manufacturers of passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, and heavy commercial vehicles.

 The industry has become a significant pillar of the country’s economy to the extent that it has become the 3rd largest economy. In 2019-2020, the manufacturing superpower accounted for 20% of the country’s total GDP. The country boasts 78 factories in 22 territories while employing over 5.5 million people.

Japan’s automotive industry developed and gradually gained its status after the Second World War when there was a need to boost the country’s economy. The automotive industry in Japan is widely known for its cutting-edge technology and innovative ideas. The Japanese manufacturers produce affordable, reliable, and popular cars.

So, what are japanese cars? Find the answers here.

Going Back in History

what are japanese cars

Japan began manufacturing vehicles in 1902 after importing its first automobile in 1899. The first car made in Japan was launched in 1907.

The 1930s saw Japan become home to many American car manufacturers. In this period, the American manufacturers produced 20,000 units, compared to barely 500 units that the domestic manufacturers released.

In 1935, the country concentrated on industrialization, a move that saw 16 car manufacturers move into the country with support from the government of Japan. In 1936, the Automobile Manufacturing Industries Act was developed, which helped promote fair competition in the market. While this act was a disadvantage to the American producers, it encouraged the domestic manufacturers and saw the rise of new manufacturing companies.

Private vehicle ownership began in the 1960s, with the development of The Japanese Automotive Manufacturer’s Association in 1967. During this time, car sales began increasing, with 14% of households with vehicles. This percentage increased because the economic situation improved, with innovative ideas and advanced technologies coming to play.

There was an oil crisis in 1973 that led to the demand for fuel-efficient cars, which made the industry design fuel-efficient cars since they had the capacity.

The industry began producing lightweight cars and took advantage of innovative materials. By 1985, the Japanese Automotive Industry started getting recognition around the world. The production increased steadily, backed up by demand for cars by 2000.

Since 2012, the Japanese local auto production has continued to increase steadily.

Car Manufacturing in Japan

The production process invented by Japanese brands has ensured that Japanese cars rank higher than their counterparts in reliability and the overall performance of their vehicles. They developed their management and manufacturing processes to promote superior reliability. They achieved this by emphasizing improving efficiency, waste reduction, spotting and fixing faults as soon as possible and gradual refinement and improvement.

This came about after the Second World War, which forced the industry to adjust and rebuild. Since the industry could not afford assembly lines like those that the US or Europe used, they were forced to develop processes and producers that would fit their limited resources predicament.

The industry’s employees had to learn to be meticulous because they would have to stop everything and fix any error discovered.

 This would mean production delays; thus, there was little room for errors. However, their US and Europe counterparts would wait till they completed mass production lines to fix the mistakes, which was way faster.

Japanese Motor Vehicles and Machinery

japanese luxury brand inifinity

Japan has grown to become one of the most successful automakers globally. The country has extensive automobile, electric vehicle, electric machinery, and engine manufacturing shares. The most popular Japanese Car Manufacturers include Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Isuzu, Daihatsu, and Mitsuoka.

The industry has also produced leading car luxury brands: Lexus, Acura, Toyota Crown, Toyota Century, and Infiniti. Nissan GT-R has been named the best Japanese Sportscar, with Mazda MX-5 as the bestselling sports car.

When it comes to the mass market, Toyota is the most popular car brand in the US, with Honda, Subaru, and Nissan closely following. Over the years, Toyota has grown to become the world’s second-largest Japanese auto manufacturer, behind German’s Volkswagen.

Japanese Cars: What Makes them so Special?

The Japanese culture is highly mechanical and technological, reflected in the manufacture of their automobiles. For the past three decades, the Japanese automotive industry has impressed the rest of the world’s automakers by building simple cars that do not break down easily. This has kept their competitors on their toes as they try to catch up with Japanese technology.


Japanese manufacturers have advanced in technology when it comes to making their automobiles. These cars contain cutting-edge and technical emergent technologies, making their vehicles appealing to their consumers.

These Japanese cars utilize this technology uniquely and more interestingly than vehicles from other manufacturers. Robotics manufacturing, for instance, was a technological advancement that was first used in Japanese cars. Japanese car companies also pioneered hybrid and electric car technologies.


Japanese manufacturers have taken full advantage of technological achievements to develop fuel-efficient car models. Cars produced in this world tend to be among the best eco-friendly vehicles globally, case and point hybrid cars and electric vehicles.

While the invention of hybrid vehicles came from worldwide engineering efforts, Japan came up with a significant amount of development. Hybrid vehicles are an essential part of Japanese car manufacturing.

On the other hand, electric cars were almost entirely developed in Japan, a massive boost for the ecosystem. Japan asserted that the country would reduce greenhouse gas emissions making electric cars a necessity for her to meet these targets. The government of Japan announced that all new passenger cars sold in the domestic market should be electrified by 2035. This, therefore, means that the country will be releasing more electric vehicles in a move to beat this deadline.

Cost Efficiency

Japanese cars are cost-effective in the long run as they do not break down easily and are easier to maintain. They are also cheaper to acquire because of the country’s considerable economic scale, which allows them to sell their cars at a lower price.


The Japanese automotive industry cultivated a culture of building cars that exceeded the reliability expectations of their competitors since the 1980s. After the Second World War, the Japanese economy did not have the capability of replicating the mass production model invented by Henry Ford.

This forced manufacturers to develop their way of producing vehicles, which was cost-effective. While factories run by European or American manufacturers subscribed to the mass-production model set up by Henry Ford, the Japanese ones had no capability for the same.

Manufacturers like Toyota couldn’t afford to buy different stamping presses for every step in the manufacturing process, making them use a single press for the other components of their car’s bodywork. This ensured that the different parts were inspected and any faults corrected before assembly, while the mass production model dealt with design issues after cars had come out of the line.


Japanese cars boast simple internal designs, which make the cars more reliable.

What Are Japanese Cars Best Brands


grey toyota rav 4

“The car in front is always a Toyota” is the true statement representing Toyota’s strides to ensure that they have a car for every customer. The company not only provides variety but affordability and sustainability. 

The company increases its reach by creating newer car models each year. In 2021, the company experienced an increase in car sales by 10.1%, having sold around 10.07 million cars. 

It has held the crown for the best cars because of its innovative nature and is currently increasing its electric and hybrid car production. Toyota has also entered the luxury car market with newer brands such as the Lexus.


different types of nissan cars

Nissan is all about enhancing customer experience through innovation. It’s a growing brand producing some of Japan’s most innovative car models. 

The company has diversified its sales by creating sub-brands such as Infiniti for its luxury customers and Datsun cementing its place among the leading Japanese car brands.


grey honda city car

Despite a decrease in sales in 2021, Honda is still considered a top brand in Japan.

This car company focuses on functionality, innovation, and catering to its customers’ needs by designing and manufacturing new car models each year. 

With Nissan, you’ll get models such as Vessel, Fit, and City.


red mazda cx-5 car

Mazda is an excellent upcoming and was named the best car brand of 2021. The brand worked to ensure customer satisfaction, reliability, and safety over the years. The brand was established in 1920 and is well known for its well-designed engines providing an excellent fuel economy.

Final Thoughts

The Japanese automobile industry takes the lead in all sectors. This reflects the weight they have placed on innovations to come up with better vehicles that suit their customers’ needs. Their creations have been reflected in the manufacture and production of their automobiles.

Japanese cars portray the country’s continuous investment, research, and development in automotive technology, fuel efficiency, performance engineering, environmental design, and upcoming innovations.