Why are LHD cars so common in Japan?
Let's find out in this article!
Japan, like many other places on Earth such as Australia and India, is a right-hand drive nation where they drive on the left side of the road, right? In those places, seeing a LHD car is less likely than seeing a banana peel itself. A weird and exaggerated reference, I know.
But if you step foot in Japan, be ready to be bombarded with a smack-ton of left-hand drive cars on a daily basis. And no, its not just the antiques and crazy exclusive cars like a Mercedes 300SL or a McLaren P1 that are involved in this, but 'ordinary' cars are too.
And in a society where everything is catered towards RHD cars, from the average McDonald's drive-thru to street junctions to even the simple street parking, why go through all the fuss and trouble to source and import a LHD car, even when there are the equivalent RHD counterparts for the same price, if not cheaper? Its because of one simple thing: status. Everybody loves a bit of that don't they, right? So here is a LHD Aston Martin Vanquish listed at a Japanese auction site, and for obvious reasons, this car is definitely available in RHD form.
For many people in Japan who import foreign LHD cars (some even LHD Japanese cars from overseas), they feel that the car gives off a sense of exclusivity within the sea of norm with RHD, therefore it is seen as a prestigious status symbol within Japan and a unique way to show off your ride and set it apart from everybody else's. So a common way to think about it is that a car's driving side should (most of the time) be based on where they sit in their brand's origin, such as Italy and Germany on the left, UK and Japan on the right. Or if the reason for that is not for status and standing out, obviously, its just simply because the desired car is not available in RHD form with cars like the McLaren P1, and older classics.
However in the age of prioritising convenience and practicality, the disadvantages really do just outweigh the benefits of owning a LHD car there. It is a diminishing trend as time progresses, but one that is still staying strong in the Japanese car scene.
Even Lamborghini themselves understands this culture and has made the Aventador Japan Edition in LHD form, even though they could have easily made it in RHD since its only going to be sold in Japan.
And those are the reasons for why there are so many LHD cars in Japan!
A shorter article this time, but still, thanks for reading, and as always,
Thoughts on this? Comment below!