German Auto Makers Got a Lift Into Japan

There is a straightforward explanation for the success of German automobile sales in Japan that Sam Jameson failed to disclose in the article "Germans Taking the Inside Track in Car Sales to Japan" (Feb. 4).

The explanation is Europe 1992, for unlike the naive United States, the Germans routinely make trade a quid pro quo proposition. You can be sure that German bankers made it obvious to their Japanese counterparts that if Japan expected to be a trading partner with post-1992 Europe, they had better open their domestic market to German manufactured goods. Amazing how quickly the Japanese took a shine to German nameplate autos after that dictate.

One would think that with the resources available to The Times, the business editors would insist upon more than Pollyanna-like quotes from German industrialists who have nothing better to do than ridicule American efforts in world trade.

I would like to see how well Hans-Peter Sonnenborn, president of BMW Japan Corp., would have done in the Japanese market if he were required to act on his own, without home government and banker support, as do his isolated American counterparts.


Santa Barbara

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