The number of Japanese used cars exported in 2014 reached the third highest figure since records began in 2006. According to data released by JAMA (Japan Automobile Dealers Association), more than 1.4 million vehicles were shipped in 2014.
The upbeat figure marks in contrast with a slump in domestic sales of both new and used vehicles in Japan. Toyota, the biggest and best-selling car manufacturer in the world sold 17.6% fewer new vehicles in February 2015 compared to the same period from the previous year. It was the eleventh consecutive monthly decline, and immediate recovery continues to remain uncertain due to the country’s shrinking population and the recent tax rise.
Sales of used cars (including used Toyota) fared even worse as they sank to a record low in 2014, with 6.9% fewer cars exchanging hands compared to the previous year.
The export sector on the other hands continues to be buoyed by the weak Japanese yen and the low prices of used cars. Cars in Japan lose their value rapidly with age, perhaps faster than any other country because the Japanese tend to upgrade to new vehicles every few years. A vehicle that is only five years old is often perceived as “old” as a result, and is usually sold at a fraction of its original price due to weak domestic demand. Any signs of accident history or damages further render it next to worthless, so such vehicles are then sold and exported to overseas where buyers can still be found.
The export market has been recently joined by several of Japan’s domestic second-hand car dealers as they expand their business base from the shrinking domestic market to the growing export market. Some of them are currently working in partnership with CardealPage where their vehicles can be viewed and purchased via the latter’s website.