Research on the Light Vehicle Industry: Don’t Say “Lame” Anymore! The Secret Strategies of Each Company to Break Free from Chaos | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Research on the Light Vehicle Industry: Don’t Say “Lame” Anymore! The Secret Strategies of Each Company to Break Free from Chaos

Daihatsu, which had dominated the minicar market with the Tanto and the Move, has suddenly hit a snag due to the fraud issue. Suzuki with the Spacia and the Hustler, Honda with the N-BOX, Mitsubishi with the Delica Mini, and Nissan with the Luke are all in full throttle in pursuit of Daihatsu!

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Momoiro Clover Z [Hustler, etc.] became a substantial Suzuki billboard. On the first three days of this year, the “Suzuki’s first sale” commercial in which they appeared was the most popular.

For Daihatsu, which has long led the minicar industry by introducing a number of popular models such as the Tanto and the Move, last year’s discovery of fraudulent certification tests was a major brake on the company’s fortunes.

It was revealed that nearly 200 cases of fraud had been committed over the past 34 years, and on January 26 of this year, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism imposed the heaviest penalty of “type designation revocation” on three models that had been found to have committed particularly egregious fraud. As a result, Daihatsu suspended the manufacture of new vehicles. Even now, there is no prospect of a full resumption of production.

Nevertheless, the popularity of kei cars has not waned. The ratio of mini cars to the total number of cars owned, which had been in the mid-20% range in the 1990s, surpassed 30% in 2005, and reached 40.3% last year. As consumers’ wallets tighten due to high prices and declining real wages, low-priced light cars are playing a valuable role as a means of transportation for the common man. Kumiko Kato, an automotive journalist, attributes the popularity of kei cars to the younger generation.

Among people in their 20s and 30s,” she says, “there are few people who think that driving a kei car is embarrassing. With the expansion of car sharing and other factors, people are becoming less concerned about owning a sports car or a luxury sedan. Although there is a cry on the street that “young people are leaving cars behind,” there is a strong impression that the number of young people seeking status in cars has decreased. The special Osaka Expo license plate that can be applied for now is designed with a yellow frame on a white background, avoiding the “yellow license plate” characteristic of light cars. No wonder people are in favor of affordable light cars, since they no longer have the appearance that had made them hesitant to purchase them.

It was Suzuki’s first-generation “Alto” released in 1979 that ignited the popularity of kei cars, which continues to this day. The shockingly low price of 470,000 yen for a new car attracted a lot of attention.

At the time, private cars were considered a luxury item, not a means of transportation for the common man, so an excise tax of 15.5% of the vehicle price was imposed at the time of purchase. Suzuki took advantage of this taxation system and was able to achieve an extremely low price by marketing the car as a “commercial vehicle” that was exempt from the excise tax,” said Kazuyuki Suzuki, a stock analyst.

The Birth of the Suzuki Empire?

Suzuki, which has numerous hit models such as the “Spacia” (No. 2 in sales volume ranking), the “Hustler” (No. 3), and the “Wagon R” (No. 5), last year overtook Daihatsu, which had stalled due to fraud, for the first time in three years to take first place in new minicar sales volume. With its rivals’ stall, Suzuki is expected to take advantage of the situation to further expand its power as the new industry leader.

Suzuki’s strength lies in its marketing strategy. I have the impression that they are launching more commercial campaigns than other companies, such as featuring Mana Ashida (19) for the Spacia and Haru (32) for the Alto. Momoiro Clover Z has appeared in commercials for a variety of Suzuki models, and some “Mononofu” fans seem to be choosing Suzuki cars to support Momoiro Clover Z.” (A reporter from a trade newspaper)

For a long time, Suzuki and Daihatsu have been the two strongest players in the kei car industry, but in 2011, a powerful rival emerged. In 2011, however, a powerful rival emerged. The “N-BOX” is currently the No. 1 selling car in Japan.

Suzuki and Daihatsu have been creating hit cars with cheap prices, but in terms of handling and ride comfort, they were inevitably inferior to regular cars. Honda developed the N-BOX by the engineers in charge of F1 engines, who laid the foundation for Honda’s golden era when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost (68) were active. Compared to other models, the N-BOX offers much better driving performance and a comfortable driving feel similar to that of a regular car.
However, the cost ratio is quite high due to the attention to detail parts to achieve a better ride quality. Honda’s problem is that the N-BOX has a strong customer base and other models such as the N-WGN are not selling well,” said automotive journalist Takeshi Momota.

In 2006, the N-BOX became the first minicar to receive the highest ratings in both collision safety performance and preventive safety performance evaluations. While some models undergo major design changes when they undergo a full model change, the fact that the design has not changed much since the first generation is another reason why it has remained so popular with fans for so long. The comfort and safety features of the N-BOX had kept it at the top of the sales volume, but it was still not enough of a trump card to propel Honda itself to the top of the industry.

Last year, a Denso fuel pump used in the N-BOX was found to be defective, and in July a tragic and fatal accident occurred on a road in Tottori, Japan. This led to the decision to recall all of the vehicles, a tremendous number of 16 million worldwide. Honda is not at fault, but it is in a sorry situation.

While Daihatsu, Suzuki, and Honda were engaged in a three-way battle, Nissan, with its “Luke” and “Days,” and Mitsubishi, with its “Delica Mini” and “Townbox,” chose to fight together to confront the situation.

In ’11, the two companies established a joint venture, NMKV, for the mini-car business. Both Nissan and Mitsubishi were among the world’s earliest companies to enter the mass production of EVs. The objective was to develop a new EV together by leveraging the knowledge of Nissan’s “Leaf” EV and Mitsubishi’s “i-MiEV” EV. Under the arrangement that product planning would be done by each company and manufacturing would be done at the Mizushima Plant in Okayama Prefecture, which is owned by Mitsubishi, Nissan succeeded in creating the “Sakura” and Mitsubishi the “eK Cross EV”. These two vehicles are siblings. It is a bit unfortunate that only the Sakura stands out at present. ……” (Momota, above)

Other rivals are also aiming for supremacy in the industry, such as Mazda, which has received OEM (original equipment manufacturing) supply from Suzuki to sell the “Flair,” a sister model of the “Wagon R.” The “Flair” is a sister model of the “Wagon R,” and many others have appeared. The mini-car industry is now in a warring state.

Daihatsu’s parent company is Toyota, the world’s largest automaker. Daihatsu’s parent company is Toyota, the world’s leading automaker. Daihatsu has allowed Suzuki and other automakers to expand their influence in the market, but they will soon regain trust in Daihatsu.

Which company will emerge from the chaos brought about by the sudden braking of the champion with its gas pedal at full throttle?

Aina Ashida (19) [Spacia] In addition to Ashida, Tasuku Emoto (37) and Emma Miyazawa (35) also appear in Spacia’s commercials.
Asami Mizukawa (40) [Delica Mini] After Mizukawa’s appointment, the Delica Mini CM ranked first in the automobile industry in the “CM likability ranking. The choice of actress is also an important factor.
Haru (32) [Alto] Alto commercials have featured beautiful women such as Miyuki Imori (55) and Kyoko Koizumi (58) in the past, and a new commercial has been airing since February 1.
Suzu Hirose (25) [Wagon R] Suzu Hirose has been appearing in commercials for Suzuki’s Wagon R since 2009. Suzuki has a reputation for having a good commercial strategy using famous actresses.
Daihatsu press conference when the fraud was discovered. The chairman and president were forced to step down, and Akio Toyoda, 67, chairman of the parent company, also apologized.
Last year, Suzuki became the top seller of minicars in Japan. Can it catch up with its self-destructing rivals and grab the overwhelming top spot?
Honda recalled approximately 1.14 million vehicles due to a fuel pump defect at Denso. This is a major blow to the company’s bid for the top spot.

From the March 1-8, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO AFLO Kyodo News Agency JIJI News Agency Sankei Shimbun, Inc.

Photo Gallery9 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles