Japanese domestic market

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Fender mirror of Toyota Celsior (UCF20 JDM)

The term "Japanese domestic market" (JDM, also "Japanese domestic model") refers to Japan's home market for Japanese vehicles and components. For the importer, these terms refer to Japanese-brand automobiles and parts designed to conform to Japanese regulations and to suit Japanese buyers.

Compared to the United States where vehicle owners are now owning vehicles for a longer period of time, with the average age of the American vehicle fleet at 10.8 years,[1] Japanese owners contend with a strict motor vehicle inspection system which forces them to pay more each year to own a car, or to sell or scrap it as the costs increase. Compliance encourages a burgeoning export business in legitimate and gray markets. According to the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, a car in Japan travels a yearly average of only 9,300 kilometers (5,800 miles), less than half the U.S. average of 19,100 kilometers (12,000 miles).[2]

Japanese domestic market vehicles may differ greatly from the cars that Japanese manufacturers build for export and vehicles derived from the same platforms built in other countries. The Japanese car owner looks more toward innovation than long-term ownership which forces Japanese carmakers to refine new technologies and designs first in domestic vehicles. For instance, the 2003 Honda Inspire featured the first application of Honda's Variable Cylinder Management. However, the 2003 Honda Accord V6, which was the same basic vehicle, primarily intended for the North American market, did not feature VCM, which had a poor reputation after Cadillac's attempt in the 1980s with the V8-6-4 engine. VCM was successfully introduced to the Accord V6 in its redesign for 2008.

In 1988, JDM cars were limited by voluntary self-restraints among manufacturers to 280 horsepower (PS) (276 hp) and a top speed of 190 km/h (118.1 mph), limits imposed by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) for safety. The horsepower limit was lifted in 2004 but the speed limit of 190 km/h (118.1 mph) remains in effect. Many JDM cars have speedometers that register up to 180 km/h (111.8 mph) (certain Nissans go up to 190 km/h, and the GT-R has a mechanism that removes the speed limiter on a track) but all have speed limiters.

JDM cars usually have stiffer suspensions and improved throttle response because the roads wind over hilly terrain.[citation needed] Conversely, American drivers prefer smoother rides because of interstate systems covering thousands of miles. Japanese manufacturers also remove certain innovations to keep US and European prices down, such as using a conventional rear suspension instead of a double wishbone suspension and eliminating electronic devices such as Active Yaw Control. Finally, JDM engine power is sometimes reduced because of stricter emission standards in other countries.


Japanese carmakers do not use a Vehicle Identification Number as is common overseas. Instead, Japan uses a Frame Number—nine to twelve alphanumeric characters identifying model and serial number. For example, Frame Number SV30-0169266 breaks down as "V30" identifying the model as Toyota Camry/Vista x30; "S" identifying the engine (4S-FE), and "0169266" being the serial number of the vehicle. Vehicle make is not identified but slight number variations can identify the carmaker, i.e. Toyota usually uses seven digits for its serial numbers while Nissan uses six. Because a frame number contains far less information than a VIN, JDM vehicles also use a Model Code. As an example, SV30-BTPNK breaks down as "SV30", which means the same as above, and "BTPNK" which designates a set of features incorporated in the vehicle.



Because Japan's roadworthiness inspections make it costly and difficult to keep an older car, used Japanese vehicles are exported primarily to other left-hand traffic markets and to right-hand-traffic Russia and Mongolia. Few go to right-hand-traffic United States and Canada, where a vehicle must be at least 25 years old before the owner can legally forego U.S. roadworthiness (NHTSA/USDOT) compliance while in Canada the car must be at least 15 years old.

Auto parts[edit]

JDM components such as lights, mirrors, wheels, and emblems are often imported for installation on non-JDM vehicles for appearance and performance enhancements. However, all JDM headlamps are engineered for use on the left side of the road which means a left-traffic low beam in right-hand traffic blinds oncoming motorists while failing to cast adequate light for the driver.[3]

Worldwide Popularity[edit]

The Japanese domestic market has been growing significantly since the 1970s.[4] Many car enthusiasts are attracted to the Japanese domestic market in different continents such as North America, Europe, and Asia. Popular brands include Subaru, Toyota, and Nissan with iconic cars such as the Subaru WRX STI, Nissan Skyline, and Toyota Supra.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Average length of U.S. vehicle ownership hit an all-time high". Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Automobile and Society". FIA. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Headlamp traffic-handedness
  4. ^ Tsuneishi, Scott Top JDM Trends Of All Time superstreetonline.com. 2007. Retrieved Nov 3, 2014

External links[edit]

  • [1] (English) (Japanese)

http://www.jdmcarsarea.com/ lexical