TOKYO — How does a Detroit automaker sell American vehicles in Japan's notoriously fickle, hyper-competitive and supposedly closed market? Actually, if you're Jeep, you do it quite well.
Jeep posted a 16 percent sales surge in Japan last year, making it one of the fastest-growing brands in the world's No. 3 auto market. In posting its sixth year of back-to-back growth since 2013, Jeep also bucked a trend of slumping overall sales in Japan and falling demand for imports.
Granted, Jeep's volume is still pretty paltry. It sold just 13,360 vehicles here in 2019.
But its success in a market that has been a nonstarter for U.S. automakers and a perennial flashpoint of U.S.-Japanese trade tensions offers a convincing counternarrative to the oft-repeated refrain that the Japanese just won't buy American.
Indeed, the next-best Detroit contender, Chevrolet, saw sales tumble 33 percent to just 585 vehicles in 2019 — fewer than Lamborghini. And Ford Motor Co. quit the Japan market in 2016.