Japanese car buyers will nine out of ten times prefer buying domestic in order to support their local brands, which do usually offer the vehicles best suited to local preferences. However, as Japanese domestic market (JDM) manufacturers have fallen behind when it comes to EVs, non-JDM automakers are stepping in to meet the demand.

Reuters tells the story of Narumi Abe, a 30 year-old Tokyo native who runs a company that sells farm produce. She was looking for an EV and did something that very few Japanese car buyers do (only one out of ten buyers), namely she purchased a foreign brand, after she narrowed down her choice to a Peugeot e-208 and the locally-built Honda e.

Abe chose the former simply because it has better range, and it’s surely a choice that is being considered by all Japanese car buyers looking for a small electric car with good specs. The two Japanese EVs that are on offer right now, the Honda e and the Mazda MX-30 are both low range EVs that are just not attracting buyers like rival models that can travel more on one charge.


EVs in Japan only make up a very small number of new cars bought in the country, but more and more people are ditching the hybrids they’ve been driving for years in search of compelling pure EVs (which they are not finding in any local automaker showroom). According to the source, the number of imported EVs more than doubled in 2021 compared to 2020 and the trend is expected to continue this year.

Of the 8,610 foreign EVs sold in Japan in 2021, over half were Teslas, but Volkswagen EVs were also among the most popular. This year also marks the return of Hyundai to Japan, after the Korean automaker left due to poor sales some 12 years ago - now it’s returning with the talented Ioniq 5 EV and the Nexo hydrogen fuel cell crossover.

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