February 25, 2018
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TOKYO: The Japanese car industry is poised to again after a series of scandals hitting several car makers in 2017. Unlike other motor shows, the Tokyo Motor Show has always been a concept-car driven exhibition. And this year, it did not stray away from the theme of presenting concept cars to the public.

But the need for Japanese car makers to look ahead to the future is more pertinent now, since currently, a host of Japanese car makers are under hot water due to the various scandals hitting the industry. Nissan Motor Co. has announced plans to suspend local car production and is under regulatory scrutiny after admitting it has used unauthorized safety inspectors to sell cars in the country.

Kobe Steel lost billions in market share after reports emerged that the steel strength it provided to its customers do not match up to the bill. Toyota is a customer of Kobe Steel and doubts on whether their cars are as strong as advertised are now rife amongst consumers.

Even periphery industries, like airbags and brakes have had their shares in 2017 auto-scandals. Takata airbags are famously under fire due to their safety feature failures and is up for debate on whether the company will survive next year.

So the need for the Japanese auto industry to stay above the scandals are clear.

Hence the Tokyo Motor Show 2017 is predominantly focused on the future, with plenty of concept cars, and newer models of famous brands are taking center stage. Mitsubishi is focusing its new Evo line, Subaru is looking towards its Impreza series, and Toyota is losing its voice shouting about the virtues of its latest Yaris assembly.

In an industry billions, plenty are at stake.


As China is ramping up production of auto vehicles by the year, and improving sales distribution by the month, it becomes clear that Japanese auto makers are sweating it out trying to gain back the trust it has lost amongst consumers.

A November 2017 report by Global Insight marks electric motors industry is worth RM 100 billion (USD 36 billion) by 2024. And with China superceding other markets in supplying electric cars at lowest prices to the public, the demand and growth is clear that the Chinese are really upping their game in trying to wrestle market dominance away from the Japanese.

Germany too is making a comeback to earn the passenger market. And so are the Americans. The fight will be tough, but the resistance amongst Japanese car makers are strong too.

Can the Japanese car industry set itself for another renaissance in the auto industry? The cars displayed at the Motor Show exhibits their clear desire to achieve just that.

Watch the full coverage of the Tokyo Motor Show on Smart Money and Viva with Ibrahim Sani, next week on November 12th onwards. Only on 501 Astro AWANI.

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