Japanese built and designed cars have flooded the North American market for over forty years now. Over time, many nameplates have come and gone, but Japanese cars continue to gain market share and acceptance with a growing number of motorists attracted to their high quality and durability. There are nine Japanese automobile manufacturing companies in existence. Can you name them? Let’s take a look at the list:
Toyota – The second largest automaker in the world is Toyota, maker of the Camry, the Corolla, and a host of SUVs, trucks, passenger cars, and a van. Toyota’s Lexus division produces luxury cars, while its Scion division manufactures youth oriented vehicles.
Honda – The Accord and the Civic are Honda’s two most well known models, followed by the Odyssey minivan, the Ridgeline truck, the Element, and several other passenger vehicles. Acura is the name given to Honda’s luxury car division.
Nissan – Drive a Datsun and then decide. Up until the early 1980s, Nissan’s North American nameplate was Datsun, but was switched to Nissan to give it a more global name. The Sentra, Maxima, and Pathfinder are amongst the division’s best selling vehicles. Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury car division. Renault Motors of France owns a controlling interest in Nissan.
Mitsubishi – Originally imported exclusively by Chrysler, Mitsubishi began to sell cars under its own name in the 1980s. Top selling models include the Lancer, the Eclipse, and the Montero. DaimlerChrysler owns a chunk of the company.
Mazda – The Tribute, Miata, and the “6" are some of the most well known Mazda models. The Mazda 6’s platform also powers several Ford Motor Company cars including the Mercury Milan. Ford owns an important stake in the company.
Subaru – Think all wheel drive and you may just think Subaru. The Forester, Outback, and Legacy are all top selling Subaru models. Fuji Heavy Industries [FHI] owns Subaru; General Motors has a 20 percent stake in FHI.
Suzuki – 20% owned by General Motors, Suzuki is as noted for producing cars as it is for manufacturing motorcycles. The Grand Vitara is one of its most noted models.
Isuzu – Did someone say General Motors? Again, GM owns a stake in Isuzu. At one time Isuzu imported cars to the US, but those days are over. Currently, Isuzu has a miniscule presence and the two vehicles they do sell – the Ascender SUV and I Series pick ups – are simply rebadged GMC vehicles.
Daihatsu – The Charade and Rocky were two models introduced by Daihatsu when the car company started selling vehicles in North America in 1988; four years later its North American operations were closed. In 1999, Toyota assumed controlling interest over the company.
So, there you have it: there are nine Japanese automakers, two of which are still independent. Much like the American market further consolidation is likely with nameplates disappearing entirely just like the Packard, Hudson, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and a host of other North American nameplates have driven off into the history books.
Copyright 2005 - Matt Keegan is a contributing writer for the Auto Parts Warehouse, a wholesaler of discount Mazda parts and quality Toyota parts for your vehicle.