Can Tesla increase sales in the Japanese market?
Although the Model 3 remains the top-selling imported electric car in Japan, Tesla is not (yet) making the impact it hoped for in the country. Recently, some clues surfaced as to why that might be the case.
Above: Tesla in Japan (Source: Tesla)
Recent advice came via a Tesla owner in Japan by way of the r/Teslamotors subreddit explaining why the Model 3 and other Teslas have not gained the same kind of sales traction in Japan as in other parts of the world (e.g. Norway).
The good news: there are plenty of famous folks driving Teslas in Japan. Tesla Board Member Hiro Mizuno tweeted about pop group Perfume and one of Japan's Major League Baseball Players, Shohei Ohtani, all proudly displaying their Tesla love. Japanese Pro Surfer, Akira Shindo, also feels some good vibes with his Tesla too (see below).
Above: Japanese Pro Surfer Akira Shindo with his Tesla Model X (YouTube: Tesla)
Nevertheless, Japan is a (relatively) small country and open land is scarce, especially in the cities. The houses tend to be small. Therefore, oftentimes, Teslas are too wide to be easily parked in a regular garage. Even a Model 3 which is the smallest car in the current Tesla lineup is too wide for many spaces available for parking.
To that end, Reddit user u/Screw_Hegemony shared a couple of photos of his Tesla Model 3 parked at his home in Tokyo. The width of the Model 3 (without mirrors) is 1,849 mm and most parking lots in Japan are 1,850 mm wide. This leaves only 1 mm of margin and some extraordinary parking skills to park the car at a shopping mall, public place, restaurant, and most homes in Japan .
Above: Model 3 tightly parked in Tokyo (Source: u/Screw_Hegemony / Reddit)
Looking ahead, Japan could clearly benefit from a smaller Tesla. The so-called Model 2 could fit the bill. However, Tesla has not (yet) promised an official launch date for this smaller, cheaper Tesla yet. That said, Elon Musk confessed that a $25,000 compact Tesla hatchback is coming.
Another issue noted on Reddit is the lack of Superchargers in Japan: "consider the cities that dot the 'countryside'… the third most populated, Hokkaido (has Sapporo) has ONE (NOT in Sapporo), and the least populated has a whopping ZERO superchargers. Even on the main island, if you lived on the North West side (as opposed to the South East that has the Tokaido Megalopolis), that whole half of the island has a grand total of one supercharger."
Nevertheless, on a positive note, "[Japan's] government is going all out with the funds to aggressively cut down on CO2 emissions (I mean we get approx. 17k USD in grants and tax incentives if we buy an EV now)." Whoa. One would hope Tesla takes advantage while Japan's leading automaker, Toyota, continues to fight against (and delay) the EV revolution.