TOKYO - General Motors (GM) says it's in Japan for the long haul despite sales of Cadillac and Chevrolet models barely surpassing 1,000 vehicles a year.
There has never been much appetite in
Japan for left-hand drive gas guzzling U.S. autos, and there are many informal
barriers to foreign automakers making it here.
But GM executives see a glimmer of
hope in the fact sales of its luxury nameplates have doubled in the past three
GM Japan Managing Director Sumito
Ishii declined to give a sales target Wednesday, but said part of the Detroit
automaker's sales strategy is to approach buyers who may not have
preconceptions about GM.
General Motors Co. has also begun to
offer models with the steering wheel on the right, which is standard in Japan.
"We have just begun our
fight," Ishii told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo.
"We offer attractive qualities that you can't find in Japanese and
Ishii and Gregg Sedewitz, director of
sales and marketing, said the cars represent American luxury and are synonymous
with risk taking, coolness and Hollywood celebrities.
The Cadillac CTS comes packed with the
latest technology, such as a lightweight structure and a direct injection turbo
engine, and sells for $59,900 and $69,900.
The Corvette, which ranges from $92,900 to $115,900 including the convertible
models, is the greenest Corvette ever, delivering 12.3 kilometers per liter.
They go on sale in Japan from April
and May next year.
Japanese consumers have historically
favored European imports and home-made cars over American models, including
Annual sales of the Lexus, the luxury
offering from Toyota Motor Corp., the world's top automaker, total about 40,000
vehicles in Japan. Annual sales for the BMW are about that same number.
Sedewitz acknowledged there was
"no magic bullet" to boost sales volume in Japan.
"The numbers speak for themselves," he said. "We are in it for the long term."