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Fender mirror of Toyota Celsior (UCF20 JDM)

Japanese domestic market refers to Japan's home market for vehicles. For the importer, these terms refer to vehicles and parts designed to conform to Japanese regulations and to suit Japanese buyers. The term is abbreviated JDM.

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 and gray markets. According to the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, a car in Japan travels a yearly average of over only 9,300 kilometers (5,800 miles), less than half the U.S. average of 19,200 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 180 km/h (111.8 mph), limits imposed by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) for safety. The horsepower limit was lifted in 2004 but the speed limit of 180 km/h (111.8 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.


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.

Worldwide popularityEdit

The Japanese domestic market has been growing significantly since the late 90's.[3] Many car enthusiasts are attracted to the Japanese domestic market in different continents such as North America, Europe, and Asia. Popular brands include Honda, Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, Suzuki, Lexus, Mitsubishi Motors and Nissan.

Ex-Japan Imports are also very common in New Zealand where 59% of vehicles registered on New Zealand roads originated from overseas markets as opposed to 41% of which were delivered NZ-New. Of this, 94% originate from Japan.[4] New Zealand imported an average of 134,834 JDM vehicles per year in the period 2015-2019[5], the majority of which were Mazda Axela, Suzuki Swift, Nissan Tiida, Toyota Corolla and Mazda Demio.[6] Other models popular for importation in previous years include performance vehicles (Honda Tourneo, Nissan Skyline, Nissan Laurel and Toyota Altezza), and kei cars (Suzuki Carry, Daihatsu Move, Subaru R2). Due to the popularity of used imports from Japan, and their relatively low crash-test ratings, the Ministry of Transport is currently investigating tougher restrictions on imported vehicles, most notably on the importation of the Toyota Corolla, Mazda Demio and Suzuki Swift.[7]

There is currently a large tendency of JDM cars in Canada, compared to the United States, due to the 15-year rule now making most of the highly sought after imports legal and importable.[8]

History of the termEdit

Super Street Magazine's Jonathan Wong helped popularise the term. [9]


There is a common misconception that a "JDM car" refers to any car of Japanese origin. However an American market car such as 240SX is not a Japanese domestic market car as it was sold in the American domestic market. However the 240SX's Japanese market counterpart, the Nissan 180SX is a true JDM car as it was officially sold to the Japanese market via Nissan.

In the car enthusiast world, JDM can also be seen as a styling trend that tends to imitate the cosmetics of similar models sold in Japan, often consisting of minor differences in the head or taillights shape or color.

JDM is also often wrongly associated with more general car customization trends originating mainly out of Japan such as drift, hellaflush, or kanjo style.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Average length of U.S. vehicle ownership hit an all-time high". Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  2. ^ "The Automobile and Society" (PDF). FIA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  3. ^ Tsuneishi, Scott Top JDM Trends Of All Time 2007. Retrieved Nov 3, 2014
  4. ^ "Buyers' Guide: NZ's most popular used imports". Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  5. ^ "2019 Vehicle Statistics". Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  6. ^ "New Zealand's most popular used imports". Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  7. ^ "Government considering banning three of NZ's five favourite used car models". Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  8. ^ "JDMVIP - The Web's Unbiased Authority On The Japanese Used JDM Cars Import Scene". Retrieved 2016-04-12.
  9. ^ "Discussion>> West Coast Hondas & That Jdm Word - Speedhunters". 29 April 2011.

External linksEdit