1901 - 1935
1935 - 1945
World War II
1945 - 1955
1955 - 1965
1965 - 1975
1975 - 1985
1985 - 1995
The Pioneers (1901-1935)
The Import and Sales of Automobiles by Foreign Trading Companies
The first automobile dealer in Japan was the Locomobile Company of America Agency, specializing in the import and sales of America's Locomobile steam cars. In 1901, this agency set up a sales showroom in Tokyo which gave Japanese their first opportunity to take a close look at automobiles on display.
First Domestic Gasoline Engine Car
In April 1907, the aforementioned Komanosuke Uchiyama produced the Takuri, the first entirely Japanese-made gasoline engine car.
From 1914 to 1917, the Kaishinsha Motor Works operated by Masujiro Hashimoto in Tokyo, while importing, assembling and selling British cars, also manufactured seven units of a two-cylinder, 10-horsepower "all-Japanese" car called Dattogo. Kaishinsha was the first automobile manufacturing business in Japan.
Also in 1914, Mitsubishi Zosen manufactured 22 Mitsubishi Model As, the first mass production cars in Japan. Until this time, the Japanese automobile industry was in its infancy.
Automobiles and the Military
In March 1918, the Military Vehicle Subsidy Law was established. Under this law, the military granted subsidies to automobile manufacturers to produce automobiles to be used by civilians during peaceful times and converted to military use in times of war. This was in effect Japan's first automobile industry policy. There were all together seven automobile manufacturers subject to this law, including the Tokyo Gas & Electric Engineering Co., Ltd. and Kaishinsha.
The Great Kanto Earthquake and the Advance of Two Major U.S.
Perceiving Japan as a potentially lucrative market, Ford established Ford Motors Japan in Yokohama in February 1925 and began local assembly and sales (from June that year) of Model Ts. GM followed suit, establishing GM Japan in Osaka in January 1927 and commencing local assembly and sales (from April) of Chevrolets.
The advent of these two companies in Japan provided the country with its first opportunity to directly experience modern automobile manufacturing. This included mass production technology, rigorous quality control of subcontracting parts manufacturers, and a system for rapidly establishing a nationwide sales network.
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