Should You Buy Japanese Cars in Singapore?
Japanese cars have become an increasingly popular choice in Singapore, with some representing the most common sights on national roads today. This leaves many of those shopping for a new vehicle wondering whether investing in a Japanese make is worth it in 2022.
This question of the value of Japanese cars in Singapore today is going to be the subject of the following guide.
Read on to discover all the key factors that Singaporean buyers should take into account when considering their next car purchase.
- Japanese Car Brands in a Nutshell
- Why Are Japanese Cars Popular in Singapore?
- Pros of Buying Japanese Used Cars
- Cons of Japanese Used Cars
- The Best Place to Buy a Japanese Used Car in Singapore
Japanese Car Brands in a Nutshell
Like any other country, Japan is home to a multitude of different automakers. Traditionally, the industry has been rife with competition, not surprisingly so considering that the manufacture and sales of cars represents a major component of the nation’s economy.
The following section will examine more closely the different Japanese car brands existing today as well as their position in the Japanese and Singaporean domestic markets.
Overview of Japanese Automotive Market
Today, the domestic Japanese automotive market is dominated by homegrown brands. Japanese drivers prefer to buy Japanese at a massive rate, in large part due to the country’s trade barriers that continue to make importing and maintaining foreign cars a luxury.
Because of the high population density and resultingly heavy congestion throughout the country, the majority of Japanese car owners reside in rural towns or villages. Most city-dwellers choose to rely on public transportation instead.
Partly because of the aforementioned congestion issues, Japan has enacted notoriously stringent laws restricting the dimensions of vehicles and engines. Owners of cars that exceed these limits face harsh financial penalties in the form of additional taxes, levies, and insurance premiums.
As a result, a unique class of vehicle has emerged, the so-called kei cars. Kei cars offer extremely compact form factors compliant with Japanese domestic regulations coupled with modest performance.
The advantage of kei cars, besides being cheap to insure and run, is that they come at a price more comparable to that of a motorcycle than the average family car.
While kei cars are incredibly popular on the domestic Japanese market, they continue to be practically non-existent abroad.
In countries such as Singapore, this is due to the lack of aforementioned size regulations that make super-compact vehicles more difficult to market than in Japan.
Most Popular Japanese Car Brands in Singapore
In Singapore, every major Japanese automaker managed to establish a significant presence in the country by the turn of the millennium.
Today, Toyota, Honda, Mazda, and Nissan dominate sales charts in that order.
In fact, all of them make it into the list of the ten best-selling car brands in Singapore, with Toyota taking the number-one spot nationwide. The company has enjoyed its leading position for a long time now, with smash hits like the Toyota Yaris continuing to take Singaporean car buyers by storm as they have in many countries around the globe.
Why Are Japanese Cars Popular in Singapore?
The remarkable prevalence of Japanese cars in Singapore begs the question of why consumers seem to flock so disproportionately towards Japanese makes over all others.
This is going to be the theme of the following section, which will analyze the five leading factors in the popularity of Japanese cars in the current market.
The Brands Offer High-Quality Goods
Far beyond the automotive market alone, Japan has sought with great success to establish itself as a provider of high-quality, distinctive goods throughout Southeast Asia.
This includes Singapore, where Japanese food enjoys a great reputation, as do Japanese fashion and cosmetics brands.
Singaporean consumers, especially those with higher levels of disposable income, are increasingly prioritizing purchases from brands deemed as trustworthy – a category where Japanese businesses are displaying great levels of success.
This helps in explaining why it is particularly Japanese car manufacturers that have amassed success at such an impressive rate within the country.
Japanese Cars are More Durable
Since the 1970s, the large Japanese automakers such as Toyota, Nissan, and Honda have focused their marketing and production efforts on delivering cars at extremely high volumes and at a low material cost in order to compete with others worldwide.
This strategy has paid off. Today, Japanese cars are considered among the most durable due to their relatively simplistic, yet sturdy construction that makes for solid, maintenance-friendly vehicles.
Compared to competition from Europe and North America, Japanese cars require less maintenance and are much more likely to survive long years of frequent use, even in harsh environments.
Japanese Cars are More Reliable
According to recent studies, Japanese brands including Toyota and Mazda top reliability rankings in industry-wide comparisons.
This is to say that maintenance costs for these vehicles tend to be lower while breakdowns are less frequent and less severe. Of all the cheapest cars to own and maintain in the long term in Singapore, the majority are Japanese.
The Brands are Competitive in Technology Innovation
During recent years, the global car industry has accelerated a trend of incorporating complex tech into everyday vehicles. This ranges from integrating smartphone apps with car infotainment systems to the use of advanced AI and semi-autonomous driver assist features.
Makers of Japanese cars such as Mazda and Toyota have distinguished themselves as standing at the forefront of innovation when it comes to these developments.
Not only do these businesses heavily implement high-tech solutions in their cars, but they also continue to push the envelope with regards to automotive propulsion.
Toyota arguably pioneered the hybrid vehicle in Singapore with its Prius and is currently investing in hydrogen-powered car research, whereas Mazda continues to innovate with its SKYACTIV-X compression ignition combustion engine.
It is Easier to Find Spare Parts
Because of the scale of the Japanese dealership network in Singapore, not to mention the sales successes of the vehicles themselves, spare parts for the majority of popular Japanese models are widely available.
On top of that, the aforementioned design philosophy dominating the Japanese car industry today also means that any commonly needed replacement parts for Japanese vehicles tend to be simpler in construction and thus more affordable to replace than equivalents from elsewhere.
Pros of Buying Japanese Used Cars
Now that the sales successes of Japanese cars should be relatively clear, the following section will more closely examine the benefits of choosing a Japanese automotive brand, particularly in the context of used cars.
More Options Available for Sale
Thanks to the country’s marketing and export production efforts, Japanese cars are among the most widely-available on the Singaporean used market today.
This makes them an attractive choice if just for the simple reason that a prospective buyer gets to view and test-drive many variations of the same make or model and choose from a greater range of options at different price points.
Most Brands Are Affordable and Have Low Mileage
Though exceptions exist, all the mainline Japanese automakers represented in Singapore focus their efforts on providing low-cost, reliable private transport that is fit both for families as well as individual use.
This means that the vast majority of Japanese used cars on the market are priced competitively with budget models from other countries, frequently undercutting them in terms of cost by significant margins.
This also makes the resale value of Japanese cars particularly high, which in turn leads to many exchanging their Japanese used cars for a brand-new model sooner than owners of Continental or Korean makes.
Over the years, this has led to a steady supply of low-mileage used cars from Japan being widely available throughout Singapore.
Taxes Can be Lower
Because of the image that Japanese automakers have attained in Singapore – that of providing affordable and reliable transportation to the masses – their vehicles are generally more affordable to own due to lower tax rates.
Insurance premiums might also be lower for many Japanese cars for the same reasons.
Lower Fuel Consumption
Japanese automakers have long striven to make efficiency a significant aspect of their industrial design. As a result, Japanese cars are class leaders in terms of fuel efficiency.
This does not only help in reducing emissions and protecting the environment, but it also serves to further lower ownership and maintenance costs.
Cons of Japanese Used Cars
Less Perceived Uniqueness Due to Popularity in Singapore
While purely a matter of taste, the individuality of a vehicle does factor into the decision-making process of many used car buyers.
No matter whether a silver Honda Accord would suit their day-to-day requirements, many would rule out purchasing such a vehicle if it made them feel like their vehicle would likely get lost in the crowd.
Owning a used car that stands out and that expresses one’s personality remains a priority for many, and unfortunately Japanese cars do not always fulfill this requirement.
Japanese Cars are Not a Symbol of Status in Asia
Buyers for whom money is less of an object than social capital might also not look favorably at Japanese cars. While there are indeed Japanese luxury vehicles – the Lexus brand comes to mind – most of them do not carry much brand value outside of Japan.
Indeed, especially in Singapore, the biggest automotive status symbols remain firmly European.
Makes such as Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and BMW are incredibly popular with high-income buyers. Apart from the positive qualities of the cars themselves, it is their social cachet that sustains their high prices on the used market.
Japanese makes, by and large, simply lack that cachet, making them unattractive to this segment of buyers.
The Best Place to Buy a Japanese Used Car in Singapore
There should be no doubt left at this point that Japanese cars are far and away one of the most popular choices among Singaporean drivers.
According to a recent survey by the Land Transport Authority, Japanese vehicles top the rankings of newly-registered vehicles in Singapore, making up for about half of all new vehicles in the country.
Thanks to our many years of expertise in dealing with Japanese, Korean, and Continental cars, we at Car World Automobile pride ourselves on offering world-class service to anyone shopping for a used vehicle in Singapore, online and offline.