Whats the story with Hot Hatch's...

transtek

Active Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2004
Messages
367
Location
mexico-land of tequila and big hats (but secretly
Car(s)
Nissan Pathfinder, Chevrolet Monza, Ninja 600
The_Finn said:
Lancia delta Integrale HF Evoluzione II
Although i think that technically thats a homologation special and not a hot hatch even if it is Hot and a Hatchback...

Evo Magazine really likes the Renaultsport Clio Trophy of the current crop

but they call the Renault Clio Williams - Best Hot Hatch Ever

for what its worth most of the clios seem to have high scores as well as the mk2 GTi

tf

One of the first (before VW), and fastest (i.e. hottest) hatchbacks was the Lotus Sunbeam, and it had the advantage of being RWD! Amazin car, even by today's standards.
sun_Friedhelm_Pinnen_from_Germany.jpg
 

janstett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
1,924
Location
Chester, NJ
Car(s)
86 944 Turbo, 2000 TA, 09 GC Overland, 11 CLS550
I think the reason hatches have a bad reputation in the US is multi-fold...

Traditionally Americans equated length, size, and weight, with quality. Foolish, yes, but that's how the big 3 sold cars, the small underpowered cars were cheap, the high end cars were miles long and powerful ("Build to the nearest foot", as Jeremy says). The first time that ever changed was with the muscle cars (that were smaller with big engines).

When imports first appeared on the US scene in the 1970s, they occupied the low end entry level and naturally were low end hatches like the CVCC. The typical low-end import was a tiny hatch with less than 100 horsepower and the first step up was to get the model with an actual trunk. Even more recently, when Yugo came to the US market, it was with a $5000 hatchback. When Hyundai came to the US market, it was with the hatchback Excel as the entry model.

Another factor that hurt -- in a hatchback, there is no perceived security for luggage (the same complaint Europeans have against pick-up truck beds), versus the next step up where you get an actual trunk and a sealed compartment that people couldn't see into.

There's also a perception that given two identical cars, one a hatch and one a sedan with a trunk, the sedan was better. Maybe they see the trunk as being cut off in the hatch model. Further, the hatchbacks tend to be packaged as 2-doors instead of 4-doors, meaning access to the rear seats is inconvenient and requires the front seats folded and some contortionism. Naturally 2 doors are cheaper to make than 4, so the stingy stereotype worsens. Now also add in that most small cars are FWD, and the vision of a hatch as a cheap, miserly, underpowered torture chamber with no trunk and driving the wrong wheels comes into focus.

So the low end nature of the first imports combined with the odd body style contributed to a perception that hatchbacks are cheap. To a degree this perception still exists.

In the rest of the world, subcompacts are a fact of life and the kind of cars most families live with day to day. In the US, they are seen the way Europeans see diesels -- it means you are cheap and/or can't afford better. In the US, people don't aspire to have a subcompact of any sort (with an exception for "in" cars like the Mini or Beetle). The Civic sells well, but every Civic driver aspires to move up to the Accord. When Japanese subcompact buyers grow up, they drive Accords and Camrys, and then Lexus and Infiniti cars that are almost as gigantic and monstrous as anything Detroit put out.

This mindset that bigger=better has also infected the Japanese manufacturers. The Accord and Camry get bigger every generation. Why? Americans think bigger = better. Further, I hate to say it, but there is some truth to the perception that bigger = better, even as manifested by the Japanese and Europeans.

Every "luxury" brand has its entry-level poser car -- a car that wears the badge to make volume and let people who couldn't otherwise afford that brand have one. Acura had the Civic-based RSX (which has now been dropped). Infiniti had the very Nissan-ish G20. Lexus sells the Camry-based ES330. Mercedes has the C-class, BMW the 318, Jag the Ford-based X-type. You get the picture. Even here, so many of these low-end cars in their cheapest configuration were hatches (C-class, BMW 318, RSX, etc.).

Now take a look at their top-of-the-line cars. Are you telling me an S-class isn't an aircraft carrier, and there isn't something to the bigger-is-better philosophy? Naturally, a bigger car affords a longer wheelbase which equates to a better ride and more room. But look at the S-class, the BMW 7 series, the Lexus LS, the Infiniti Q. What do they all have in common? They are all large RWD sedans, not diminutive hatchbacks.

There were also a number of sports cars that had hatches (Corvette, Camaro, Firebird, Porsche 944, etc.) and while these weren't cheap the large glass also leads to less privacy and more heat in the car. Further, how many high end cars do you see as hatchbacks? Exempting the mid-engined exotics, very few, if any.

Now the attitude has changed and people know bigger is not neccessarily better, thanks to the Japanese and Euro imports and in particular things like the Mini Cooper.
 

ishigakisensei

Active Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2006
Messages
343
Location
Japan-TN
sandor_ said:
In the US we are the ones that dont have a choice.

Truer words have never been spoken. I live part of the year in Japan and they have oodles more choices than what is available here in the US. The Big 3 complained about creeping Japanese market share - if Japan were really allowed to export to the US, Detroit would have folded over a decade ago.

Who in their right mind would ever choose to ride in a Ford Crown Victoria taxi cab when you could ride in a Nissan Crew or Toyota Comfort? American cars lacked any sophistication until recently and now only in small doses.
 

janstett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
1,924
Location
Chester, NJ
Car(s)
86 944 Turbo, 2000 TA, 09 GC Overland, 11 CLS550
ishigakisensei said:
sandor_ said:
In the US we are the ones that dont have a choice.

Truer words have never been spoken. I live part of the year in Japan and they have oodles more choices than what is available here in the US. The Big 3 complained about creeping Japanese market share - if Japan were really allowed to export to the US, Detroit would have folded over a decade ago.

Let's not forget that many foreign manufacturers long ago set up manufacturing capacity within the United States. This gets them around any import restrictions. I really don't think there is any great shortage of Japanese cars in the US.

ishigakisensei said:
Who in their right mind would ever choose to ride in a Ford Crown Victoria taxi cab when you could ride in a Nissan Crew or Toyota Comfort? American cars lacked any sophistication until recently and now only in small doses.

Well, let's not go too far... The big 3 are stupid and protectionist, but quite frankly a lot of the cars not available in the US just plain wouldn't work here. Either they wouldn't meet crash & safety standards (Smart, Merc A Class, most Japanese B cars) or they are just plain bizzarre. Now, I've been in some Tokyo taxi cabs and for the small size they are quite nice and roomy and the rear doors open nice and wide. If I'm not mistaken, the Toyota for example is a descendant of the Toyota Cressida, which used to be slotted above the Camry in the US before Lexus was set up. Frankly I don't think the Toyota Comfort has room in this market -- where would it fit between the Camry and Avalon? If cab companies want to use something other than the ubiquitous Clown, er, Crown Vic, they are free to. I suppose Ford makes them available very cheaply and that's why they buy them. The burden is on Toyota to fit their cars in taxi trim and make them available at competitive prices.

Anyway, bottom line is that a lot of the cars that don't make it to the US market don't make it for a reason.

Also, when a truly good car exists in Japan, they find a way to bring it over (the absence of the rally twin Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and Subaru WRX STi, for example, got rectified in a big way). And sometimes something that you wouldn't think works in America (like the Scion xB) comes here and experiences success.
 

sandor_

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Messages
1,043
Location
Philadelphia, USA
Car(s)
'76 911, '97 328i, '73 R75/5, '71 Vespa
janstett said:
ishigakisensei said:
sandor_ said:
In the US we are the ones that dont have a choice.

Truer words have never been spoken. I live part of the year in Japan and they have oodles more choices than what is available here in the US. The Big 3 complained about creeping Japanese market share - if Japan were really allowed to export to the US, Detroit would have folded over a decade ago.

Let's not forget that many foreign manufacturers long ago set up manufacturing capacity within the United States. This gets them around any import restrictions. I really don't think there is any great shortage of Japanese cars in the US.

ishigakisensei said:
Who in their right mind would ever choose to ride in a Ford Crown Victoria taxi cab when you could ride in a Nissan Crew or Toyota Comfort? American cars lacked any sophistication until recently and now only in small doses.

Well, let's not go too far... The big 3 are stupid and protectionist, but quite frankly a lot of the cars not available in the US just plain wouldn't work here. Either they wouldn't meet crash & safety standards (Smart, Merc A Class, most Japanese B cars) or they are just plain bizzarre. Now, I've been in some Tokyo taxi cabs and for the small size they are quite nice and roomy and the rear doors open nice and wide. If I'm not mistaken, the Toyota for example is a descendant of the Toyota Cressida, which used to be slotted above the Camry in the US before Lexus was set up. Frankly I don't think the Toyota Comfort has room in this market -- where would it fit between the Camry and Avalon? If cab companies want to use something other than the ubiquitous Clown, er, Crown Vic, they are free to. I suppose Ford makes them available very cheaply and that's why they buy them. The burden is on Toyota to fit their cars in taxi trim and make them available at competitive prices.

Anyway, bottom line is that a lot of the cars that don't make it to the US market don't make it for a reason.

Also, when a truly good car exists in Japan, they find a way to bring it over (the absence of the rally twin Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and Subaru WRX STi, for example, got rectified in a big way). And sometimes something that you wouldn't think works in America (like the Scion xB) comes here and experiences success.

Please. Smart, for one, is probably safer than 1/2 the cars on the road, and a large number of SUVs. Get rid of the "smaller is more dangerous" mentality, and see the results of hitting a concrete wall @ 70 MPH in a smart car (fifth gear 6x04??) and a large suv hitting a little something or other head on at 40 mph a piece. Not so amazingly, SUVs tend to absorb energy right into the driver and passenger rather than through the frame. while you may feel like you are in a tank in your SUV, you are not.
 

janstett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
1,924
Location
Chester, NJ
Car(s)
86 944 Turbo, 2000 TA, 09 GC Overland, 11 CLS550
sandor_ said:
Please. Smart, for one, is probably safer than 1/2 the cars on the road, and a large number of SUVs. Get rid of the "smaller is more dangerous" mentality, and see the results of hitting a concrete wall @ 70 MPH in a smart car (fifth gear 6x04??) and a large suv hitting a little something or other head on at 40 mph a piece. Not so amazingly, SUVs tend to absorb energy right into the driver and passenger rather than through the frame. while you may feel like you are in a tank in your SUV, you are not.

Oh come on, get real, the SUV argument is a red herring. You don't think DaimlerChrysler hasn't tried furiously to get Smart on the US market, especially after seeing BMW rake in the cash unopposed with the Mini? It's been reported numerous times in the automotive press that Smart in particular couldn't pass US crash standards. While your concrete wall results are interesting, and the Smart may perform well in that one test, US crash regulations deal with more scenarios and are in fact pretty stringent. Ask yourself why the Mini passes and the Smart fails.

It's quite simple. The European and Japanese city-cars, meant for the streets of Tokyo, London, and Rome, are tiny and narrow, and can't offer sufficient protection for US highways without changing their very design nature. These cars are a special breed meant for city-dwelling and their specialization making them so great for the city makes them ill-suited for the general purpose at large. Redesigning a car like the Smart to pass US crash regulations increases cost, weight, and size, making the Smart no longer what it orginally was meant to be. And, since DaimlerChrysler is hemorraging money over Smart, they didn't dump money into such an effort.

If I had to guess, I would suppose it is side impact that is the problem, and the Smart, being small, light, and narrow, probably doesn't offer sufficient mass/bulk to pass.
 

sandor_

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Messages
1,043
Location
Philadelphia, USA
Car(s)
'76 911, '97 328i, '73 R75/5, '71 Vespa
janstett said:
sandor_ said:
Please. Smart, for one, is probably safer than 1/2 the cars on the road, and a large number of SUVs. Get rid of the "smaller is more dangerous" mentality, and see the results of hitting a concrete wall @ 70 MPH in a smart car (fifth gear 6x04??) and a large suv hitting a little something or other head on at 40 mph a piece. Not so amazingly, SUVs tend to absorb energy right into the driver and passenger rather than through the frame. while you may feel like you are in a tank in your SUV, you are not.

Oh come on, get real, the SUV argument is a red herring. You don't think DaimlerChrysler hasn't tried furiously to get Smart on the US market, especially after seeing BMW rake in the cash unopposed with the Mini? It's been reported numerous times in the automotive press that Smart in particular couldn't pass US crash standards. While your concrete wall results are interesting, and the Smart may perform well in that one test, US crash regulations deal with more scenarios and are in fact pretty stringent. Ask yourself why the Mini passes and the Smart fails.

It's quite simple. The European and Japanese city-cars, meant for the streets of Tokyo, London, and Rome, are tiny and narrow, and can't offer sufficient protection for US highways without changing their very design nature. These cars are a special breed meant for city-dwelling and their specialization making them so great for the city makes them ill-suited for the general purpose at large. Redesigning a car like the Smart to pass US crash regulations increases cost, weight, and size, making the Smart no longer what it orginally was meant to be. And, since DaimlerChrysler is hemorraging money over Smart, they didn't dump money into such an effort.

If I had to guess, I would suppose it is side impact that is the problem, and the Smart, being small, light, and narrow, probably doesn't offer sufficient mass/bulk to pass.

uh, again, wrong. companies like Zap
http://www.zapworld.com/cars/smartCar.asp
have been importing grey market Smarts for a while now. They still needed to meet all DOT safety requirements, and EPA emissions requirements. Merc is just being bitchy for some reason about bringing them in (hence the lawsuit against Zap and other grey-market importers)
 

ishigakisensei

Active Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2006
Messages
343
Location
Japan-TN
janstett said:
Let's not forget that many foreign manufacturers long ago set up manufacturing capacity within the United States. This gets them around any import restrictions. I really don't think there is any great shortage of Japanese cars in the US.

Setting up manufacturing plants in the US got them around import restrictions on certain models only. Yes, there are many Japanese cars in the US, but I was referring to choices - which is something we do not enjoy. I do not mean just that I cannot get a Cappuccino here but also that I cannot get a TVR or even a street legal Lotus Elise. Japan has as strict car testing standards as the US but they allow a hell of a lot more choices of cars than we have.

Visit Japan and you'll see what I mean.

sandor_ said:
uh, again, wrong. companies like Zap
http://www.zapworld.com/cars/smartCar.asp
have been importing grey market Smarts for a while now. They still needed to meet all DOT safety requirements, and EPA emissions requirements. Merc is just being bitchy for some reason about bringing them in (hence the lawsuit against Zap and other grey-market importers)

And let's not forget that SMART cars have no problem existing on Canadian roadways. Roadways that are no different than US ones.

This quote seems most appropriate here:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one?s lifetime. - Mark Twain
 

sandor_

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Messages
1,043
Location
Philadelphia, USA
Car(s)
'76 911, '97 328i, '73 R75/5, '71 Vespa
ishigakisensei said:
This quote seems most appropriate here:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one?s lifetime. - Mark Twain


off topic, but i was just talking to a Jamaican gentleman yesterday, who has lived in the US for 20 years now. He believes whole heartedly in the above sentiment. I agree as well, and furthermore we both agreed that the US sanctions on Cuba have hurt no one but the masses in Cuba, and that the US is doing with its (our) version of Democracy? the exact thing that the USSR did with its version of Communism? in the middle of last century.


I really think that isolation and isolationist attitudes breeds "-isms"
 

Blind_Io

"Be The Match" Registered
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
23,379
Location
Utah, Banana Republic
Car(s)
06 XTerra, '00 VFR800, '11 Multistrada, Yamaha R6
One other thing I thought of. At the time that small hatches started to come to the US we were still driving large gass guzzlers. Althought the hatches were supposed to be aimed at people needing a reliable cheap car - younger people just starting out - it was probably seen as a low-quality tiny station wagon. Young men (the primary buyer in that demographic) would have much rather had a muscle car with a trunk than a small lightweight import hatch.

The Gas Crisis in the 70's forced Americans into more fuel efficient cars and that ment imports. I remember when my parents were looking for a car after returning from Europe - small cars were in such high demand some dealers would not even let you drive them before you bought them.
 

janstett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
1,924
Location
Chester, NJ
Car(s)
86 944 Turbo, 2000 TA, 09 GC Overland, 11 CLS550
ishigakisensei said:
janstett said:
Let's not forget that many foreign manufacturers long ago set up manufacturing capacity within the United States. This gets them around any import restrictions. I really don't think there is any great shortage of Japanese cars in the US.

Setting up manufacturing plants in the US got them around import restrictions on certain models only. Yes, there are many Japanese cars in the US, but I was referring to choices - which is something we do not enjoy. I do not mean just that I cannot get a Cappuccino here but also that I cannot get a TVR or even a street legal Lotus Elise. Japan has as strict car testing standards as the US but they allow a hell of a lot more choices of cars than we have.

Visit Japan and you'll see what I mean.

I've been to Tokyo twice, I know what you mean. In fact in the last 18 months I've been to Germany, Tokyo x2, and Seoul. My point is that you said import restrictions were preventing us from seeing more models from Japanese manufacturers, which isn't the case. If Toyota/Honda/Nissan were so desperate to bring models to the US, they can tilt their existing cars to US manufacture and use the import allotment to bring us the other stuff. As I said, usually this means if a car doesn't exist here, it's for good reason. If the Japanese manufacturers want to bring something bizarre over, they find a way (e.g. Scion xB). I would say it breaks down to this, not just for the Japanese but for all imports:

(1) it costs a lot of money, time, and effort to certify a car for US standards (thus manufacturers save their energy for models they know will sell).
(1a) California/New York emission standards are very high and many cars don't meet these specs as designed.
(1b) This is less of a problem, but it used to be very tricky to design a car to meet all auto regulations everywhere it is sold (euro side markers and headlight laws are different than US, etc.) let alone things like right versus left hand drive.
(2) In congested areas of the world (such as Japan) the manufacturers have more variety within a smaller overall range of product. On the US market that leads to overcrowding of an already overcrowded segment -- do we really need 5 cars from Toyota that are all addressing the Camry buyer?
(3) The big three still have a sizable market share, albeit shrinking. So the market has to absorb the big three's models, plus imports from Europe and Asia. Having every model from every manufacturer is a logistical nightmare and the sales figures for fringe models wouldn't be worth it, given the above costs. Plus consider the distribution over such a large country as the US. If you were Toyota, would you suffer the costs to bring in a low-volume car and distribute it to hundreds/thousands of Toyota dealers in four time zones?

I would love to see more variety on the streets, but I understand why it doesn't happen. I did have the time of my life observing the cars in Tokyo (paradoxically it's a great city for exotic spotting), interesting to see cars sold here sold there under different names (Lexus models with Toyota badges, etc.) and cars that don't exist here... Also fun to observe the strange names (like the Nissan Cedric (wtf?)) but my favorite would the the Diahatsu Naked :lol: It's kind of like those athletes who have Kanji tattoos, all meaning is lost and they're doing it to be cool.

http://img429.imageshack.**/img429/1995/naked0oc.jpg
 

janstett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
1,924
Location
Chester, NJ
Car(s)
86 944 Turbo, 2000 TA, 09 GC Overland, 11 CLS550
sandor_ said:
uh, again, wrong. companies like Zap
http://www.zapworld.com/cars/smartCar.asp
have been importing grey market Smarts for a while now. They still needed to meet all DOT safety requirements, and EPA emissions requirements. Merc is just being bitchy for some reason about bringing them in (hence the lawsuit against Zap and other grey-market importers)

Well, I'll cede the point, I did some quick online searching and couldn't find evidence to back up my argument (although I do swear I read/saw it).

Good news Smart fans, I did find this:

DaimlerChrysler Confirms U.S. Smart Car Launch
The Daily Auto Insider
Thursday, June 29, 2006
June 2006


DaimlerChrysler plans to introduce its Smart minicar in the U.S. in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The automaker will partner with an American distributor — United Auto Group Inc. — to sell the Smart ForTwo model in about half a dozen areas of the country, the story said, citing a top company executive.

The Smart is expected to get about 40 miles per gallon and sell for less than $15,000, the executive said while declining to set a sales target for the car.

The Smart will be sold in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Seattle, Puerto Rico and parts of Florida.

With a top speed of 84 mph, I won't be getting one. :)
 

janstett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
1,924
Location
Chester, NJ
Car(s)
86 944 Turbo, 2000 TA, 09 GC Overland, 11 CLS550
^ Oh, certainly, in some cities the Smart will be right at home (New York, San Francisco, Chicago). Where everything is geographically close together and parking is tight. These cities have been experimenting with various micro cars for years.

In a city like Los Angeles I don't think it will work, for those who haven't been there, you probably have a different view of it since it is the 2nd largest city in the US. It isn't like New York at all. Everything in Los Angeles is very spread out and there are few skyscrapers. It's almost the opposite of Manhattan.
 

ishigakisensei

Active Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2006
Messages
343
Location
Japan-TN
janstett said:
My point is that you said import restrictions were preventing us from seeing more models from Japanese manufacturers, which isn't the case.

I completely disagree. The restrictions were put on when the US only made gas guzzlers that fell apart and the Japanese were beginning to import reliable fuel efficient vehicles. Americans were introduced to only a handful of models before the restrictions were put on. German automakers also enjoyed tighter restrictions due to several Americans buying Euro-spec model cars for much less than those sold in the US even with the added cost of shipping. Higher prices added a aura of exclusivity that does not exist in Germant. Most Americans were then and remain now very ignorant of what is available beyond our borders and they have no motivation to even learn.

This is not an open market. It took a Playstation game to introduce to a generation a plethora of cars never available here leading to Subaru and Mitsubishi making US compliant models. These cars were available worldwide in various markets where they met all environmental and safety standards. I could also mention the Skyline GTR not being able to meet US restrictions despite having a masive following for the ones legalized by MotoRex (before they went under due to fraud) and counteless illegal ones.

I see your point of view, but when I look at history, Japan, and Europe, it is most clear to me that the import restrictions lessen our choices on what we can and cannot buy. One cannot choose what one does not know.
 

sandor_

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Messages
1,043
Location
Philadelphia, USA
Car(s)
'76 911, '97 328i, '73 R75/5, '71 Vespa
janstett said:
sandor_ said:
uh, again, wrong. companies like Zap
http://www.zapworld.com/cars/smartCar.asp
have been importing grey market Smarts for a while now. They still needed to meet all DOT safety requirements, and EPA emissions requirements. Merc is just being bitchy for some reason about bringing them in (hence the lawsuit against Zap and other grey-market importers)

Well, I'll cede the point, I did some quick online searching and couldn't find evidence to back up my argument (although I do swear I read/saw it).

Good news Smart fans, I did find this:

DaimlerChrysler Confirms U.S. Smart Car Launch
The Daily Auto Insider
Thursday, June 29, 2006
June 2006


DaimlerChrysler plans to introduce its Smart minicar in the U.S. in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The automaker will partner with an American distributor ? United Auto Group Inc. ? to sell the Smart ForTwo model in about half a dozen areas of the country, the story said, citing a top company executive.

The Smart is expected to get about 40 miles per gallon and sell for less than $15,000, the executive said while declining to set a sales target for the car.

The Smart will be sold in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Seattle, Puerto Rico and parts of Florida.

With a top speed of 84 mph, I won't be getting one. :)

i'll be looking at one only for commuting, and probably only if they bring over the 60 + mpg diesel.

i think it will do good in most cities, especially with the rise of condos in the big cities, you then have 4-6 units in a converted brownstone, and still only one on street parking spot in front. i'm also thinking of south philly, where it is normal to see three rows of parallel parked cars-you want to leave in the morning? hand on the horn till the proper people come out to move their cars to let you out. quaint :D

actually, the red-blooded americans in south philly probably wouldnt ever trade their Detroit iron for something 'ferrin.
 

janstett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
1,924
Location
Chester, NJ
Car(s)
86 944 Turbo, 2000 TA, 09 GC Overland, 11 CLS550
ishigakisensei said:
janstett said:
My point is that you said import restrictions were preventing us from seeing more models from Japanese manufacturers, which isn't the case.

I completely disagree. The restrictions were put on when the US only made gas guzzlers that fell apart and the Japanese were beginning to import reliable fuel efficient vehicles. Americans were introduced to only a handful of models before the restrictions were put on. German automakers also enjoyed tighter restrictions due to several Americans buying Euro-spec model cars for much less than those sold in the US even with the added cost of shipping. Higher prices added a aura of exclusivity that does not exist in Germant. Most Americans were then and remain now very ignorant of what is available beyond our borders and they have no motivation to even learn.

Well, I suppose we are just going to go around and around on this issue, so I'll just drop it after this... You have a very pessimistic view of the market and I don't think it's justified.

Import restrictions were a reactionary measure of the 1970s and 1980s. We're in 2006, I'm not so sure those restrictions even still exist (do they?), and even if they did, we live in a world where the Big Three's market share has plummetted, the Toyota Camry is the US's best selling car, and pretty much every major manufacturer has plants in the United States. Today, manufacturers are free to introduce whatever they want to the market -- when they don't, I maintain it is an issue of cost to certify and modify, as well as suitability to the market. NOT an import restriction.

ishigakisensei said:
This is not an open market. It took a Playstation game to introduce to a generation a plethora of cars never available here leading to Subaru and Mitsubishi making US compliant models.

Actually, that proves that this is an open market. The EVO and WRX were consciously not brought onto the market by Mitsubishi and Subaru. If they didn't want to sink the money into bringing them up to US spec, that was THEIR choice. The US government didn't prevent them from bringing their cars here, as they eventually did. So I fail to see how this is proof of a protectionist market. Cars that weren't on the market before suddenly came on the market without an act of Congress.

On the subject of Mitsubishi, word is they are considering pulling out of the US market entirely due to poor sales (as have Peugeot, Renault, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and more in the past). Isuzu has been on life support for years and Japan's oldest car company will probably fold. Is this due to nefarious import restrictions, or is it due to their cars not selling?

Japanese models fail on the US market all the time even in the tide of overall success. Further, catering to the US market has actually lead to even MORE variety in the portfolios of the Japanese manufacturers -- examples include the Accord coupe which is made in Ohio and shipped to Japan, the Honda CR-V which was created for the US market and sent back to Japan, and all the gigantic SUVs and trucks the Japanese created for the US market.

ishigakisensei said:
These cars were available worldwide in various markets where they met all environmental and safety standards. I could also mention the Skyline GTR not being able to meet US restrictions despite having a masive following for the ones legalized by MotoRex (before they went under due to fraud) and counteless illegal ones.

And again I would counter that it was Nissan's choice not to bring the car here... Which of course, now they are with the next-gen GTR. More proof of a free market and not government meddling.

ishigakisensei said:
I see your point of view, but when I look at history, Japan, and Europe, it is most clear to me that the import restrictions lessen our choices on what we can and cannot buy. One cannot choose what one does not know.

I see your point of view too, but I believe the blame lies more with the manufacturers choosing not to bring product to the US market for reasons I've outlined before. Certainly not import restrictions which may not even exist anymore. Further, those restrictions (which I might point out the UK had at one time too before the collapse of its domestic auto industry) limited the number of cars, not the number of models, that were imported. If the Japanese wanted to bring in a wider variety with fewer numbers of each, I don't know of anything that would have stopped them. Quite logically, they thinned the herd to limit their efforts to models that would have the best chance to sell.

Even today, with Toyota becoming the world's #1 automaker, I don't think Toyota could bring every single model it makes in Japan to the US market successfully. It would cause brand confusion and cars that serve niches in Japan would all bleed together under the differring conditions of the US market. Again, do we really need 5 cars that are in the Camry's demographic?
 

ishigakisensei

Active Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2006
Messages
343
Location
Japan-TN
I see that we are looking at the term "import restriction" differently. You view it as simply numbers while I view the term as including costs to certify and modify. This is why the US most certainly is not an open market. It is quite closed and the 25-year rule further restricts my choices. For someone who has traveled, it is surprising how this is not obvious to you.
 

janstett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
1,924
Location
Chester, NJ
Car(s)
86 944 Turbo, 2000 TA, 09 GC Overland, 11 CLS550
What is the "25-year rule"? I'm not familiar with it.

Yes, I am viewing "import restriction" as government-imposed limits, that's what they have meant especially when the Japanese models first came here in the late 70s and early 80s.

As for the costs incurred to certify/modify being an "import restriction", I'm not so quick to agree. That's a legal requirement for a car to be considered road legal, not an import restriction. All the models that *do* make it to the US market had to meet these requirements, all the domestically produced cars have to meet these requirements... What's the problem?

It used to be that selling a "world car" was costly but that's largely been mastered by this time. Therefore, the models that don't make it over without heavy modifcation, imply that these cars were not designed to be world cars, owing to either (a) legacy reasons, i.e. the car is based on an old platform/technology, or (b) costs were kept low to only satisfy the requirements of the home market. That's not the US Government's fault, it's the manufacturer's fault.

It certainly costs more to build a "world car". Sometimes bringing an old platform up to spec simply isn't worth the cost, especially if the model is at the end of its lifecycle. For example, one of the big reasons the Camaro and Firebird were killed was that they couldn't pass the new side impact requirements and a model redesign was too costly. A similar fate is befalling the Holden-based GTO, it's being cancelled because it wouldn't be worth it to bring it up to new crash standards. These reasons are probably why the Skyline didn't make it here until the new generation shows up.

And should we start talking about the restrictions imposed by the Japanese government on all kinds of goods while we're at it?
 

ishigakisensei

Active Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2006
Messages
343
Location
Japan-TN
janstett said:
What is the "25-year rule"? I'm not familiar with it.

Any non-US compliant car must be 25 years old to be exempt from the import restriction. 20 for the EPA, but it's the 25-year mark that matters. If I want say, a Renault Espace that received a 5-star ENCAP (spelling?) safety rating that is superior to US standards, it does not matter. I cannot choose that vehicle because it is not 25 years old. The US is very much a closed market.



As for the costs incurred to certify/modify being an "import restriction", I'm not so quick to agree. That's a legal requirement for a car to be considered road legal, not an import restriction.

You make a distinction that does not exist in reality. All restrictions are based in law.

all the domestically produced cars have to meet these requirements... What's the problem?

It's called adding an extra cost for no benefit to the consumer making the import cars more expensive when they naturally are not. How can you be so obtuse?

That's not the US Government's fault, it's the manufacturer's fault.

Because the government imposed those restrictions. Really now, your arguments lack any logic.

And should we start talking about the restrictions imposed by the Japanese government on all kinds of goods while we're at it?

I have no problem pointing out the faults of the Japanese so if you wish to do so, go ahead. I just ask that you actually post something logical instead of disproving your own arguement.
 
Top