Archive for the ‘Export News’ Category

Auction Watch: 2008 Nissan GT-R

December 10, 2008

Have you heard of the that little name before? Of course, it seems as if everybody knows about the GT-R (of the Skyline heritage). In fact, it seems to be the embodiment of Japanese sports cars in almost every aspect. This huge name is in popular demand in many parts of the world and you might be interested to know that it easy to get (although expensive) on the used car market.

Yep, that’s right. You can pop over to your favorite exporter/auction agent and find a number of “used” 2008 (and soon 2009) GT-Rs. We call them “used” because they’ve been purchased once by the person putting it on market, not because they’ve been driven a significant distance. One such example is a car on JCarBuys: a 2008 Nissan GT-R Black Edition with Bose sound system. Here’s some details:

Equipment: automatic air conditioning (climate control), anti-lock brakes, alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, spoiler, supplemental restraint system (air bags), cd player, television, navigation, central locking, electronic fuel injection, electric seats, leather seats, power mirrors, stereo, tiptronic, 3-seat
Vehicle notes: BRAND NEW CAR, FACTORY BOSE SOUND SYSTEM, REAR/REVERSE MONITOR, Black Edition.
R35 - 2008 Nissan GT-R Black Edition/Bose System - Black R35 - 2008 Nissan GT-R Black Edition/Bose System - Black R35 - 2008 Nissan GT-R Black Edition/Bose System - Black
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Romanian Car Caveat Starts Filling

December 4, 2008

While imports (particularly used car trading) seems to be stagnating in most parts of the world because of economic turn down, there are still many nations still empty of affordable cars. Romania is one such place. According to Financiarul.ro:

In the first ten months this year, the number of used cars from import rose 105%, to more than 205,000 units…

As you can see, the eastern European nation is starving for affordable vehicles and while brand-new models remains prohibitively high, used car imports are filling all the holes in the social landscape. While nearly all of these cars are coming from Western Europe, there may be room for Japanese exporters to find sales direct or indirectly from this situation. While it may not be affordable to export cars to Romania (worth finding out for those looking to expand), we can expect the need of replacement cars in those nations that are selling to Romania. Maybe we’ll see increased imports for Ireland/UK/Netherlands as a knock-on effect.

Auction Watch: Excavators and Industrial Equipment

December 2, 2008

I would like to continue with our series of vehicles you can find at Japanese auto auctions. But I going to take a small detour from the regular cars and get into something bigger (literally). Excavators and other industrial equipment are often sold in Japanese auctions for a number of reasons. Just like private car owners, industrial vehicle owners need/want to change their vehicles according to demands the business has at the time.

Since it is no easy thing to sell such equipment alone, you will find several auto auctions selling industrial equipment on the side. In addition to the general vehicle auctions, there are also specialized auctions that focus just on industrial and construction equipment. Often these auctions use the parade auction format (cars are “paraded” in front of buyers and auctioned individually) due to the size of the vehicles and the money involved.

The quality of these vehicles can vary, but you will see many that are in great condition (for their use). Those who are serious about buying used large equipment should really consider buying from Japan. Many importers (from Canada to East African nations to South-East Asian to South American countries) purchase from Japanese auctions because even after shipping costs and other fees involved, you will find better quality for a cheaper compared to purchasing from a local market.

To give an example, here is a 2001 Kobelco excavator currently available for export on JCarBuys Stock:

YV02 - 2001 Kobelco SK115SR-1E Hydraulic Excavator - Green YV02 - 2001 Kobelco SK115SR-1E Hydraulic Excavator - Green YV02 - 2001 Kobelco SK115SR-1E Hydraulic Excavator - Green

Car Watch: Toyota Regius and Vans

November 28, 2008

In continuation of our series, the Toyota Regius is a van made in Japan that is often exported throughout the world. There are many different sub-models that you’ll be able to find. That means you can find passenger versions, cargo models, a combo passenger/cargo type. Also they can be extended in length and height, they can be Deluxe versions, or stripped versions (useful for business purposes). You can also find many of them have duel sliding doors. There many choices to choose from (something you’ll see typical in Japan), and if the Regius styling isn’t your taste, there also many other van and people/cargo movers that are available in Japan.

For example, JCarBuys has a 2000 Toyota Regius Super GL with some photos available:

LH172 - 2000 Toyota Regius エース V Super GL D - white2 LH172 - 2000 Toyota Regius エース V Super GL D - white2 LH172 - 2000 Toyota Regius エース V Super GL D - white2 LH172-0036331-1 LH172-0036331-2 LH172-0036331-3

When you are looking for quality used vans and cargo/people movers, Japan offers many vehicles of various sizes, uses, and designs. Japanese used car exporters are often more than willing to help you purchase such vehicles.

Webtip: Searching Foreign Images

November 25, 2008

I would like to suggest a new tool I’ve found for those interested in search images that are tagged with foreign words (ie: Japanese) without having to know what to type.

To explain, ForiSearch takes one language input and translates it into a second language, then it searches Google, Yahoo!, or MSN images searches for images with such text.

LANGUAGE #1 > translates to LANGUAGE #2 > search GOOGLE, YAHOO!, OR MSN for related images.

It is very simple and useful for Japanese used car exporters and importers to use. There are many applications to use it with. For example, an Importer can search for a particular word and get 1. the word in Japanese, and 2. images to confirm the translation is correct.

To show: I typed in “rust” with Japanese selected as which language I wanted to search in. I got さび (if you see question marks, don’t worry, they mean rust). And to make sure my translation is right, I see a number of images with metal having rust forming.

Don’t worry if some of the images aren’t exactly what you are looking for. Sometimes that is because in the other language, the word has more than one meaning. Just as long as you get a majority of the photos of what you are looking for, you should have the right translation.

Link: ForiSearch

UPDATE: You can also search videos in Youtube in foreign languages!

Car Watch: Honda Integra Type R

November 20, 2008

Continuing our series all about the different types of vehicles you can find from Japanese used car exporters, this time we will focus on the Honda Integra Type R. Coming from one of the most popular manufactures for cars, the Integra Type R is of the sporty variety, popular about car enthusiasts and car tuners.

For those who are unfamiliar with a somewhat common terminology, not all Integras are Type R. Type R refers to the “Racing” type of a vehicles (same as Civic Type R), which involves the car’s weight being reduced by taking anything unnecessary out and also using more performance-orientated parts for vital systems. The other way to look at it is that a Type R car is generally more uncomfortable, noisier, and much less “options” that would otherwise weigh down the car. As an example, here is a 2000 Honda Integra Type R:

DC2 - 2000 Honda Integra Type R - red

When considering if there is a market for these types of vehicles in your country, you must also consider import rules concerning these cars. Often, they are using after market parts instead of the standard stock parts and because of that, they may not qualify to come into your country. On the other hand some countries don’t mind you import special vehicles as long as they pass safety and emission tests (such as Australia).

Even if you don’t particularly like these types of cars as an importer, maybe there is niche market where you are for these types of vehicles. Another benefit is the cars generally produce very passionate crowds that are willing to go extra lengths to purchase such a vehicle.

Related Pages:
Car Watch: Mercedes-Benz A-class
Car Watch: Toyota Landcruiser Prado

Car Watch: Mercedes-Benz A-class

November 18, 2008

Looking around to find the most opposite vehicle I could to the last car we’ve highlighted (the Toyota Landcruiser Prado), I found the 2001 Mercedes-Benz  A-class 5d  A160. Compared to the Landcrusier Prado, there seems nothing similar except that it’s a vehicle. The A-class is a much smaller 5door (hatchback), German, in the sub-compact class, much more efficient (13.2km each liter or 4.9L for each 100km), and much different styling. Here’s some photos of the vehicle:

WDB168033 - 2001 Mercedes-Benz A-class 5d A160 - silver WDB168033 - 2001 Mercedes-Benz A-class 5d A160 - silver WDB168033 - 2001 Mercedes-Benz A-class 5d A160 - silver

It’s not a beast. It’s the complete opposite. Maybe you or your customers are looking from something that is effecient and fitting for a city. Having such a small car (although not a Kei) is a big benefit in many ways. Also, perhaps you can find the European look stylish to your taste. However it is, if you or your customers are liking this, don’t forget that you can get them in Japan. Japan has both LHD and RHDs of these models (although more often you will see RHDs).

Exports and the Economies

October 14, 2008

Right now the world is experiencing ups and downs in its economy. Besides US, Japan also has been affected. What about your country?

Data has not been yet produced (we’ll have to wait about a month), but has it been affecting your sells/purchases? While nations connect more directly to Western nations haves seen some fall, the are also many nations that continue to experience growth. Please let us know how your nation is doing in the comments section below.

Stats Review: JDM Used Car Exports in 1st Half 2008

September 4, 2008

I was able to obtain the statistics of how many used passenger* cars have been export from Japan during January to June. The statistics do not include trucks and other commerical/non-passenger type vehicles.

Overall Used Passenger Exports from January 2008 to June 2008

Car Units: 579,582
Value: ¥352,310,171,000
(or at today’s exchange rate: $3,249,516,575)

Over three billion (milliard) US Dollars! That’s a whole lot of money for used cars alone.

Top 10 Destinations

Rank Country      | Car Units | Value(Japanese Yen)
  1: RUSSIA       | 260,008   | 163,251,031,000
  2: CHILE        | 55,461    | 11,744,217,000
  3: UAE          | 37,167    | 9,321,093,000
  4: NEW ZEALAND  | 35,640    | 17,991,266,000
  5: MONGOLIA     | 14,322    | 4,342,595,000
  6: KENYA        | 13,013    | 7,342,810,000
  7: SOUTH AFRICA | 12,904    | 3,545,133,000
  8: SINGAPORE    | 12,894    | 21,078,435,000
  9: MALAYSIA     | 12,746    | 25,317,559,000
  10: BANGLADESH  | 10,208    | 10,706,168,000

Russia remains #1 way ahead of everyone as Japan is supplying their used car market rapid expansion. Others continue to remain strong, although old partner New Zealand has slowed down its imports since the new emission regulations have taken affect. Newcomers to the Top 10, Mongolia and Bangladesh, have seen recent sharp rises due to mostly political and somewhat economical changes. They’ve replaced Pakistan (19th) – which has gone through extreme political unrest, and United Kingdom (11th) which has seen reduced demand that is possibly related to economic downturn/unrest.

Together, the top 10 represent roughly 80% of the used passenger vehicles exported from Japan and 78% of the total value of the cars. Thus the top 10 importers hold a landslide majority of sales Japanese used car exporters have made.

Top 20 & 50

Adding the next 10 (Top 20) would make it 90% of car units and 88.5% of total cash amount. Counting the top 50 together will make it roughly 99% of both car units sold and total value.

Draw you own conclusions. The data is quite clear, and if your an exporter, you should have a clear idea what to do. If you want to look at the full data, you can do so by going to:

Japanese Used Passenger Car Export Statistics : January 2008 to June 2008

Note: Car Units and Value data for each country comes from Japan Customs Statistics Office. All other data is calculated by me. Percentages and VPUs are rounded to simplify view.

Philippines Imports Subdued

August 15, 2008

Philippines Gov has taken great lengths to shut down all illegal importing of used passenger cars.  It was a thriving business, but it depended on corrupt custom’s officials. As it reached nation attention, those who were abusing their power were removed and illegal imports were being confiscated. It seems for at least the short term that car imports are frozen.

HOWEVER… Importing diesel commercial vehicles is legal and still being done.  Most importing is done through  the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and the vehicles are converted to LHD.

Finding The Right Car

July 21, 2008

Finding the Japanese car that you want can sometimes be difficult. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, here are some useful tips to overcome minor problems.

First, let me express some problems you might face:

  • The model name in Japan might be different from the one where you live.
  • The car seems to be sold in other layout (coupe, sedan/saloon, etc.) than you want.
  • You don’t know if the “year” is the manufacture year or first registration year.

These problem can be answered by knowing just a small piece of information. For example, knowing the car chassis number can help you know the particular model, it’s years of production (for that version), and what layout that car is. This number is important because it only gets changed when significant changes are made to a model.

For example, a Honda EK9 is a Civic Type R 3-door hatchback produced between 1997 and 2000. The EP3 is the next generation Civic Type R that was made from 2001 to 2005. On the other hand a Honda EU is a Civic 5-door hatchback built between 2001-2005.

Here are some useful websites to go to:

Wikipedia – Provides information on alternative names for cars, shows the various layouts are car can be found, provides model chassis codes, and other multi-national information. Unfortuantely it is not perfect because of the heavy United States influnce but it still has plenty of usefulness.

Cars-Directory.net – One of many sites that give detailed information on particular models. Also has many pictures available to look at and compare.

Do you have other suggestions? or do you have other questions on how to find the right vehicle? Please write them in the Comments section below!

Importing Japanese Car Info Video

June 19, 2008

A little video for your enjoyment with a little reminder of where to go for information on importing Japanese used cars from Japan.

New Zealand Used Car Market Subdued

May 27, 2008

In a combination of rises in fuel prices, costs of living, and government legislation, overall used car sales have dropped. Large, fuel inefficient cars got hit the most with a 20% drop in sales.

In comparison, smaller vehicles and “performance” vehicles have been able to sustain sales. Smaller vehicles because they tend to be more fuel efficient. Sporty “performance” cars because most likely the average consumer for these types of vehicles aren’t concerned with rises in costs too much.

Used car exporters will want to focus more on offering smaller, fuel efficient cars to New Zealanders. Kei-class cars might even break out into main stream exports if fuel prices continue to rise.

Source: New Zealand Herald

Russian Car Importers Hold Protest

April 17, 2008

Last Tuesday Russian Car Importers held a protest against changes made starting April 1st in Vladivostok, Far East Russia, which have caused huge delays getting imported vehicles cleared.

On April 1, two customs posts – Vladivostok Auto Transport and Vladivostok Central – were combined into one – Vladivostok Commercial Port – by officials intended to smooth the process. In reality, the reshuffle has caused much chaos, delays, and as a result, money lost. Because of the large backlog and daily storage fees of about $20 per a car, auto businessmen acquire considerable lost which are bringing in double and triple digit numbers of cars each day. Ships are even being delayed as they must wait a few days before they can offload their vehicles.

In protest, traders decorated their vehicles with orange ribbons and the slogan “Car Dealers against Bureaucracy” and marched in front the Far Eastern Customs Department. Importers are look for the government to step in, cut, and normalize the clearance time. April may be a sluggish month for Japanese used car exports to Russia. Businessmen are looking forward to getting back to schedule.

Driving On The Right Side… Of The Road Or Car?

April 11, 2008

As many of you may be aware, Japan is a RHD (Right Hand Drive) vehicle country like the UK. According to Wikipedia, about 34% of the world by population drive on the left, and 66% on the right. By roadway distances, about 28% drive on the left, and 72% on the right. To visualize this:

RHD vs. LHD on a World Map

Those in blue are RHD and those in red are LHD. The terms left or right hand drive refer to where the driver sits in the motor vehicle not where the car is on the road. So in the case of Japan, the steering wheel is on the right hand side.

Most markets that are already RHD will find much value in Japanese used vehicles. Areas such as South-East Asia, Oceania, Eastern Africa, and the British Isles are major importers. Because they use the same system as Japan, there are less hassles getting the vehicles imported. But just because a country doesn’t drive the same way as Japan doesn’t mean RHD vehicles can’t be imported.

For example, Russia is officially regulated for LHD traffic, but Japanese RHD cars are the single largest supplier of used cars to Russia. Last year over 440 thousand vehicles where exported from Japan into Russia. Russia is estimated to have more than 1.5 million RHD vehicles on its roads. In the far eastern regions, such as Vladivostok or Khabarovsk, RHD vehicles make up to 90% of the total. Many other LHD nations are also importing RHD in the thousands without any problems such as Canada, UAE, Chile, Mongolia, Cyprus, and Peru.

There are two considerations for importers. First, are RHD vehicles legally able to be imported, and more importantly, driven in your country. Even in the case that RHD autos cannot be used on your roads, many governments allow the vehicle to be modified so that it is switched to LHD.

The second consideration is if you are willing to drive “on the wrong side” or will you be able to sell cars to customers that are RHD. It is not a matter of being a safety hazard if the driver sits on the other side. A Canadian study showed that RHD drivers were more careful, thus less likely to get into accidents, than those who drove like normal.

It is also not about not getting able to feel comfortable driving RHD drive in a LHD nation. Most drivers who experience this challenge are able to overcome the awkwardness of driving differently within the first few hours on the road. The main issues are do you mind standing out a little bit and will it bring to much inconvenience to your lifestyle? For example, you’ll need a passenger to help you through drive-thru’s and at toll booths. If you don’t mind, and you can import, there are plenty of benefits.

Image and Statistics from Wikipedia under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Top Importing Countries in Feburary 08

April 2, 2008
  1. Russia = 40,690
  2. Chile = 10,055
  3. UAE = 7,363
  4. New Zealand = 7,227
  5. Malaysia = 2,564
  6. South Africa = 2,139
  7. Mongolia = 1,759
  8. UK = 1,703
  9. Singapore = 1,646
  10. Cyprus = 1,612

Mongolia has been recently got more hungry for cars. New Zealand is feeling the restriction. Russia remaining as strong as ever. Chile has recently seen a rise of imports being the gateway to South America. Another hubs, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates are keeping steady, if not growing slightly.

Trade Statistics For Used Car Export From Japan

March 14, 2008

Big Changes from Dec 07 to Jan 08

Singapore: ↓ from 1760 to 1034 (units)
Malaysia: ↓ from 2333 to 1019
Indonesia: ↑ from 39 to 631
Pakistan: ↓ from 1204 to 461
Bangladesh: ↓ from 1800 to 1181
UAE: ↓ from 9272 to 6814
Russia: ↓ from 38124 to 26017
Cyprus: ↓ from 2288 to 651
Peru: ↓ from 7068 to 44
Chile: ↓ from 7068 to 3249
Kenya: ↓ from 1660 to 948
Tanzania: ↓ from 1477 to 768
South Africa: ↓ from 2862 to 1778
New Zealand: ↓ from 8427 to 6426
Total: ↓ from 98591 to 63968

While there is a drop from December to January, this is what to expect during the post-holiday slump. Some of the reason for the downturn have been reported such as Eastern Africa, Russia, New Zealand. New-car lobbyists have made unfortunate progress in a number of states (see NZ, Malaysia, Philippines) but the largest market, Russia, continues to lead strongly. A majority of the biggest changes are mere seasonal fluxes. 

Join Our Newsletter

March 3, 2008

I want to invite our visitors to join our newsletter hosted by our sister site. It is an excellent way to stay in touch with what is happening in the Japanese used car exporting/importing world. You can join by simply visit:

JCarsNow.com – Newsletter

Used Car Exports Up 2007

February 1, 2008

Japan’s Ministry of Finance gives the used car exports industry a chance to look at snapshots of what progress is being made by giving monthly and yearly statistics. In review of 07, there is some big increases especially in Russia, and an increase year to year from 06.

More details (semi-technical) after the break… (more…)

Interact on Japanese Import Forum

January 30, 2008

Hi all readers,

If you need some help on importing Japanese used cars, you should check our sister location:

www.JCarsNow.com/jdm/

It a great place for you to ask questions on many topics:

Buying from Japanese auto auctions or from dealer’s/exporter’s stocks, exporting, shipping, importing, customs, and of course, the cars themselves. Share your importing experiences and suggestions with others. You should find me online there everyday if you need help. Because it is a forum, rather than a blog, you should be able to interact a lot more over there. Enjoy!

Japanese Car Age: How much does it matter?

January 22, 2008

When we are dealing with exporting/importing Japanese cars as individuals or as import businesses, we generally are speaking about Japanese used cars. This means there was a previous owner, whereas a new car would be one that never was previously owned. Note the distinction: a used car is one that is previously owned, not necessarily a old car. In fact within days of being out on the market, the new 2008 Nissan GT-R was sold as “used” at AUCNET last December.

So since age isn’t connected to the term “used”, what and how much does it matter when buying for export?

Well, most importantly, it matters to the ultimate customer which is either you or the people you will sell to. Some people just don’t want an “old” car in which they use the term very loosely, then there are also people very particular the age of the car for various reasons. For example, one model year could have major reworking of styling or performance compared to the last model year. Additionally, whole model generations can change the car you get.

What is good about Japanese Auto Auctions (Part 1 & 2 so far) is that they provide such an enormous supply of cars (and pictures!) that is changing every week and eventually the car that you want will be available. Of course, if you are extremely picky on the exact car, options, year, sub-model, etcetera, the longest I heard of was a few months wait.

Another reason buyers are concerned about the age of the car is the fact car do degrade over time in performance and condition. It is safe to say the average Japanese car is kept in good condition. The shaken (Japanese Bi-annual car inspection test) is very strict and it encourages owners to keep their car in good shape. Also, during winter in Japan, roads are not salted like many other countries tend to do. Thus a Japanese vehicle will experience much less corrosion and rust than a Western vehicle. In general, age does affect the car’s quality per say, but on average, much lesser of extent than elsewhere.

One final thought of concern is your governments regulations. Some countries regulate the vehicle’s age directly, some indirectly. For example of regulating by age:

  • The United States allow 25 years or older to import very easily. Newer vehicle must pass a number of standards, and car less than 6 years old become even more difficult to import.
  • In Canada, cars older than 15 years can be imported without restrictions. Newer vehicles must already meet Canadian Safety Standards at the time of manufacturing.
  • Australia allow imports free to enter if produced before 1 January, 1989. If newer, rules are tighter and vehicles must be complied to ADR (Australian Design Rules) by a Registered Automotive Workshop (RAW).
  • New Zealand has similar rules which allow cars built be 1990 to enter will little restrictions. New Zealand allow any car import for any age, as long as the meet requirements.
  • In the UK, any car at least 10 years old can be imported by just passing the MOT. A car less than that age must also pass the ESVA.
  • Cyprus requires special approval for cars older than 5 years since production.
  • In Pakistan, only vehicle less than 4 years old can be imported.
  • Bangladesh does not allow vehicle more than 4 years old to be imported.
  • In India, imported cars must be under 3 years old.
  • Nearby, Sri Lanka forbids import over 2 years old.
  • Peru doesn’t allow vehicle more than 5 years of age to be imported.
  • In Jamaica, imports are restricted cars 3 years or less, vans/light trucks 4 years or less, and returning residents may import vehicles5 years or less.

The age of the vehicle needs to fit all three needs (taste, condition, and regulations) for an enjoyable time importing Japanese used cars. For more information:

JUCE.info

What’s special about Japanese cars? (PART B)

December 4, 2007

Why would somebody be interested in importing a car? What would be its benefit?

In part A, I highlighted that JDM vehicles (those made for Japan) are made with more variety and technology. In this part, I want to focus on the condition of cars and how importers benefit.

The first thing that must be realized is that owning a car in Japan is Expensive! With this fact, the old proverb “Where your treasure is, so is your heart” can be easily applied here also. Your typical car owner, keeps their vehicle much cleaner than most of their American, European, and worldwide counterparts.

Yes, Japanese are found smoking, drinking (non-alcoholic) beverages, and eating just as others, but you will find much less cars with smashed chips ingrained in the carpet, spills spots on the seat fabric, and other “used” marks. If you are buying from auctions, you will have detailed notes if their are any interior flaws.

For most people, interior is important, but the exterior is even more important. For Japanese, when buying used, the want to know any flaws externally and all inspections sheets have a section specifically for noting any damage. Very often, you will find cheap used cars with no external flaws or at most a few small scratches.

Again, when buying, you’ll have professional assessments to consult. Additionally, in Japan roads are not salted during the winter which reduces cases of rust to very low levels.

Mechanical conditions on Japanese have many things preventing get bad apples. Not that every car in Japan is mechanically in excellent condition. Nevertheless, in Japan a vehicle must have a very stringent and expensive car inspection called “Shaken”. This promotes people to keep their cars well maintained.

Additional benefits are that the Japanese have among the smoothest road is the world making shock waring much lower. Japanese people also generate little mileage on their cars. You can find 9 year old cars with less than 90,000km and most cars most used-cars are running less than 100,000km on their odometers.

Stay tuned for more reasons Japanese imports are worth the effort.

What’s special about Japanese cars? (PART A)

November 21, 2007

Why would somebody be interested in importing a car? What would be its benefit?

This part A of a series.

These are question common among people who live outside the JDM world. This because they aren’t familiar with it, just as they aren’t familiar with the acronym JDM (which means Japanese Domestic Market)

For a car to be JDM isn’t just merely any car from Toyota, Nissan, Honda, etc., but rather any car designed, built, and marketed with the Japanese society in mind. For example, the Toyota Allion or the Nissan Figaro. This are called exclusive JDM cars as they were JDM car and where sold only in Japan.

There is another type of JDM cars, as you might guess, that are designed, built, etc. for Japan, but were/are sold in other countries, often re-badged. For example the Toyota Hilux Surf is the same as 4Runner and Toyota Rush is also sold as a Daihatsu Be-go. Also look at the Subaru line-up. The line between a non-exclusive JDM car and merely a Japanese make car is thin and some people consider them the same.

So in-route to answer the first question, I would like to point out the source of their “specialness” is the JDM competitiveness. Most countries don’t manufacture vehicle and America, one of the biggest automotive industries in the world, only has the “Big Three”. In contrast, Japan has Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Subaru, and Daihatsu producing cars and Hino, Isuzu, and Mitsubishi Fuso which mostly focus on the larger transport industries.

Because of the more competitive nature of Japan, there is more choices of models and sub-models/types that are offered that aren’t sold elsewhere. Also there are more technological advancements being introduced all the time. Navigation system are standard nowadays and many cars have much more advance systems for safety, performance, economical, and ecological purposes.

To put it simple, one point for why JDM cars are special is that there is more variety and they are more technologically advance (even compared to comparable Japanese make cars outside of Japan).