Honda Civic Type R SwindonThe relationship between the British and Japanese car industries is stronger than ever, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive Mike Hawes has said at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show – but it will only continue to thrive if the UK secures good post-Brexit trade deals with both the EU and Japan.

Almost 100,000 more Japanese brand car sales are now registered in the UK than five years ago, with the total so far in 2017 topping 350,000. This comes in the 36th year of formal automotive trade between the UK and Japan.

It’s fitting, given how Japanese-owned car plants in the UK account for almost half of all UK car production. The SMMT points out that some Japanese brand cars, such as the Honda Civic Type R and Toyota Avensis, are even being exported back to Japan…

Meanwhile, Japan is now the UK’s sixth biggest car export market, and the second largest in Asia after China. We have our premium and performance brands to thank for this: the UK, says the SMMT, is the second-largest manufacturer of such brands in the EU, behind only Germany.

The numbers are, in contrast to the amount of Japanese-brand cars sold in the UK, low: 12,656 models in the first half of 2017. But many of them are high-margin machines such as Range Rovers and Jaguars, so profits are still high. Japan’s favourite British-built car of all remains the Mini.

But although it’s thriving, there are risks on the horizon, warned Hawes. “This summer’s agreement of an EU-Japan Free Trade Deal is welcome news for both our industries.

“However, for our relationship to benefit post-Brexit, the UK will need to secure trade agreements with both the EU and Japan, underlining the importance of securing the right deal during Brexit negotiations.”

Top 10 British-built bestsellers in Japan

  1. Mini One
  2. Mini Clubman
  3. Honda Civic Type R
  4. Range Rover Evoque
  5. Land Rover Discovery Sport
  6. Toyota Avensis
  7. Jaguar XE
  8. Range Rover Sport
  9. Jaguar F-Pace
  10. Land Rover Discovery

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