Nissan Motor Co. is the second-largest importer of cars to Japan in 2011, beating out major automakers such as BMW. The Japan Automobile Importers Association said that Nissan, which builds the March (available as the Micra in Europe) subcompact in Thailand and sends it to Japan, increased imports by 86% to 50,269 vehicles in 2011. Volkswagen topped Japan's import car market with 50,635 vehicles, an 8.4% increase compared to the previous year.
Japanese automakers imported 69,787 cars, a 62.3% increase. Nissan spokesman Toshitake Inoshita said that this increase started “purely” from March. Nissan transferred the output of the March/Micra to Thailand from Oppama, Japan, in March 2010, offsetting the impact of a strengthening yen that lessens the profit from exporting Japanese-built cars, and reduces costs by setting up production near its suppliers.
Last October, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said that Japanese automakers will continue to transfer production abroad due to the strong yen. Yoshiaki Kawano, an analyst at industry researcher IHS Automotive, said that it’s likely that the imports of models such as the March that are targeted for sales in all regions would grow because of the strong yen.
The importers' association said that last year, imports into Japan by BMW increased by 5.5% to 34,195 vehicles, making up 12.41% of the import market. Meanwhile, VW had an 18.37% share and Nissan had 18.24%. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp. imported 15,377 vehicles, about 50% higher than the previous year.