TOKYO -- In 14 years in Japan, the past 10 as president of what now is DaimlerChrysler Japan, Rainer Jahn has seen it all.
Trade disputes. Economic implosion. Wild currency swings. A growing gray market. The unexpected addition of two American makes, Chrysler and Jeep, to his portfolio of responsibilities - and worries.
At the end of the day, though, the dean of import-car executives in Japan says he considers his tenure to have been routine.
"The market issues didn't change all that much," said the 59-year-old Jahn, who retired here March 31 after a 36-year career at Mercedes-Benz. "Whatever the Japanese economy does or does not do, the market remains huge. It continues to be extremely interesting and extremely promising."
Hans Tempel has replaced Jahn. Tempel, 49, most recently was based in Germany as head of sales and marketing of Mercedes-Benz trucks but served as general manager of Mercedes-Benz Japan from 1986 to 1991.
In Jahn's 10 years at the helm of Mercedes-Benz Japan - and, subsequently, DaimlerChrysler Japan - sales have risen from 29,605 Mercedes-Benz cars in 1992 to 64,904 Mercedes-Benz, smart, Chrysler and Jeep vehicles last year. He doesn't see that growth stopping anytime soon.
"If we're doing this intelligently, we can follow the example of the U.S. and get to 1.5, 1.8 or maybe even a 2.0 percent market share in the next 10 years," even though the overall market will be flat, Jahn said.
Smart sales, for example, are predicted to rise to 10,000 this year, from 4,051 last year and could go to 15,000 in the medium term, he said.