First Killer Reason – Used Cars from Japan are Cheaper
Yes, they have to be shipped around the world to get to you, but even despite that, you will find that used cars bought directly from Japan will punch above their weight in terms of value for money.
So, why are used cars so cheap in Japan? Well, first of all, you know it’s not because they are poor quality in the first place. Japanese brands like Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi are known the world over for their quality and longevity. They lead the world. No, there are several good reasons why perfectly good cars can be picked up cheap in Japan.
First of all, the dream of every Japanese business is to be number one in its home market – Japan. In the car industry, to be number one means to be the guy who has sold the most cars in a given year. But why do you care about this – you aren’t after new cars anyway? Well, think about it: If you are Toyota and your motivation is to sell the most cars to be number one, are you going to be too concerned about making a big profit on each vehicle? Obviously not. Sure you want some profit, but basically you want to shift as many units as possible as fast as possible, and to do that you need to keep prices down. So the fight to be the number one new car maker has the knock-on effect of keeping new car prices low. And if the car starts low when it is new, it is only going to be even cheaper when it’s secondhand.
So, the car starts off cheap when it’s new. What about the used car market? With all these cheap new cars around, does anyone buy used vehicles in Japan? Of course, just like everywhere in the world, there are used car dealers in Japan too. But the next reason Japanese used cars are relatively cheap is that Japanese people themselves are culturally-programmed to prefer new products. Let me give you an extreme example: Where I am from in the UK, a house is still considered basically new even after ten or fifteen years, and people live in houses that are literally hundreds of years old. Well, get this – in Japan the average age of a home is 27 years! This means that your average house in Japan is torn down and completely rebuilt every 27 years. That is how strong the preference for “new” is for Japanese people. So, when a Japanese person goes to buy a used car, they won’t to look at it as having anywhere near the value of a brand new one.
The final reason is that Japan has a strict and expensive system of roadworthiness testing which kicks in 3 years after the car is bought. (Linguistically-minded readers may be interested to know that this test is called Shaken – pronounced “shah-ken” in Japanese.) Just imagine you are Japanese and have a car a few years old that is approaching its “Shaken” test in a few months. You would be pretty tempted to trade it in, wouldn’t you? And this is exactly what happens, leaving a lot of low-mileage, relatively new cars on the market.
For Japanese businesses that own vehicles another major crunch time is the end of the financial year, which also coincides with when car tax expires. This explains why you will see a surge in the numbers of cars passing through the Japanese car auctions in Spring each year, as companies offload their old cars before this deadline passes.
Killer Reason Two – Low Mileage and Good Condition
If you ask someone who has never been to Japan what they imagine it to be like, they will often mention Temples, mountains or Zen rock gardens. Very “Last Samurai”, but not the reality of most Japanese people’s everyday lives. The fact is that the vast majority of the population live in the concrete jungle of the big urban centers. Huge metropolises like Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya are where the population concentrates. That’s right – these are urban driving environments with traffic lights every few meters, where a journey of a few kilometers can easily take well over half and hour.
What does this tell you about cars in Japan? Simple! They have usually not gone very far, and where they have been, it was not at any great speed. In fact, if my experiences are anything to go by, you average Japanese car will have spent most of its working life idling at red lights.
Not only do secondhand cars in Japan have lower mileage than their counterparts, but they have also been better maintained. To some degree, cars here are still a status symbol. People who get their cars new make sure they stay in that condition as long as possible, passing on the benefits of thorough maintenance to whoever gets that car next.
The Third Killer Reason to Get Used Cars From Japan – Fuel Economy
There was a time back in the early 90s when a barrel of the black gold could be yours for just $10. That’s right – ten dollars! Doesn’t that seem a long time ago now? In truth, it was a different world. A world ruled by giant SUVs and pickup trucks. And yet it was in this world at this time that Japanese companies like Toyota and Honda started working on the hybrid technologies that are all the rage now.
Why were the Japanese car makers so far ahead of the game with this hybrid technology? Why were they investing millions developing these new ideas when the other big players pandered to their customers’ demands for ever-thirstier vehicles?
One big reason is geographic: Japan has almost no natural resources. It is one hundred percent dependent on foreign oil. Not only did the forward-thinking Japanese automakers realize that the black stuff would one day be no more, but they also realized that in order to win big sales in their dependent home market, they would have to make sure their cars were fuel efficient.
Of course, if you know anything about the car market in Japan, you will know that for years their has also been a class of vehicles called Kei (pronounced “kay”, meaning “light) Cars that have a maximum capacity of 660cc. The Japanese car companies have vast experience in making these light, compact and very fuel-efficient vehicles. The same technologies of light-weight vehicles with small, efficient engines can be applied across the spectrum of vehicles. This is another reason why the Japanese are ahead of the game now. So, what you find is that when it comes to fuel-efficiency, the cars in front are Japanese.
And what does that mean for you? Well, the cars that your customers want right now – cars that sip, not gulp – are ready and available right now in Japan.
So there you have it, folks. Three killer reasons why the cars you want for your used car sales business are waiting for you in Japan right now. Offer your customers these and they will not only buy them, but thank you as well.