Toyota, Daihatsu, Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Isuzu, and Honda are all Japanese carmakers. Honda is the first Japanese carmaker to open a plant in the U.S. in the early 1980s.
The automotive industry in Japan is one of the most prominent and largest industries in the world. Japan has been in the top three of the countries with most cars manufactured since the 1960s, surpassing Germany. The automotive industry in Japan rapidly increased from the 1970s to the 1990s (when it was oriented both for domestic use and worldwide export) and in the 1980s and 1990s, overtook the U.S. as the production leader with up to 13 million cars per year manufactured and significant exports. After a massive ramp-up by China in the 2000s and fluctuating U.S. output, Japan is currently the third-largest automotive producer in the world with an annual production of 9.9 million automobiles in 2012. Japanese investments helped grow the auto industry in many countries throughout the last few decades.
Japanese zaibatsu (business conglomerates) began building their first automobiles in the middle of the late 1910s. The companies went about this by either designing their trucks (the market for passenger vehicles in Japan at the time was small) or partnering with a European brand to produce and sell their cars in Japan under license. Such examples of this are Isuzu partnering with Wolseley Motors (UK), Nissan partnering with British automaker Austin, and the Mitsubishi Model A, which was based upon the Fiat Tipo 3. The demand for domestic trucks was greatly increased by the Japanese military buildup before World War II, causing many Japanese manufacturers to break out of their shells and design their vehicles. In the 1970s Japan was the pioneer in robotics manufacturing of vehicles.
The country is home to many companies that produce cars, construction vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs, and engines. Japanese automotive manufacturers include Toyota, Honda, Daihatsu, Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Isuzu, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Mitsuoka.
Cars designed in Japan have won the European Car of the Year, International Car of the Year, and World Car of the Year awards many times. Japanese vehicles have had worldwide influence, and no longer have the stigma they had in the 1950s and 1960s when they first emerged internationally.