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Japan October 2012: Up! could be VW’s most successful launch

VW Up!

* See Japan's best-selling imports by clicking on the title! *

Volkswagen released its new Up! in Japan on October 1. Three weeks on, orders for the mini car have just reached 3,000. The Nikkei thinks the Up! “may beat the Golf to become the German automaker’s most successful new-car launch ever in Japan.” The Truth About Cars' local expert Bertel Schmitt says "the 2 door version costs 1.490.000 yen in Japan. That's US$18.600, but with tax and converted from obscenely high yen to obscenely low greenbacks. Trust me, in Japan, it’s a bargain."

At 3.54m long, Volkswagen's Up! is both similarly sized to the Japan-only kei cars (which have a maximum length of 3.40m) and similarly priced to them. So in a way, this makes the Up! the first kei car imported into the country (kinda) and largely explains its success there.

To give a bit of perspective (thanks Bertel), 3,000 Up! in 3 weeks is what all of Ford sold in Japan this year so far over 9 months and it's more than double what General Motors exported to Japan in the same period. The VW Golf, the best-selling import in the country for the last 10 years, sold 5,657 units there in the third quarter of 2012 and 18,669 over 9 months. If it continues at the same level, the Up! could topple the Golf to become the country's most popular import in Japan...

Previous Japan imports post: Japan Imports Q3 2012: VW Golf leas, BMW 3 Series in Top 5

Previous year: Japan Imports Full Year 2011: VW Golf #1, now in overall Top 30!

Full Q3 2012 Top 30 Ranking Table below.

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Categories: Japan
  1. Sonico
    October 31st, 2012 at 08:25 | #1

    I agree with Rutger, Matt. If I recall correctly, the smart was even sold in a specific version (I seem to remember it was called the smart k) which was somewhat reduced in the width, as the Kei-car restrictions have rules for both length and width and the standard smart was just a bid wider.

    Even a couple centimeters more than the limits, and you don’t get ANY of the Kei-car legislation bonuses.

  2. October 31st, 2012 at 00:18 | #2

    The Japanese are mad about tiny and ugly cars!!!!

  3. Rutger (D-C)
    October 29th, 2012 at 23:51 | #3

    The first gen smart fortwo (city coupé/city cabrio) was the only non-Japanese Kei car ever sold. Like the Toyota iQ and new electric version eQ, the engine displacement and dimensions of the VW up! are too big. That makes these sales numbers even more astonishing.

  4. October 29th, 2012 at 20:33 | #4

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  5. October 29th, 2012 at 20:31 | #5

    Hi Matt, the Up! would not be the first kei car imported over there. Remember the 500, on sale from some years ago and also with good results.

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