The Japanese automotive industry has been a major player in the global automotive market for decades. As of 2016, Japan was responsible for over 20% of all cars exported globally. In 2017, the United States was Japan’s largest export market, with exports totaling $51 billion USD.

While the US has historically been a large importer of vehicles from Japan, it is important to note that there have been periods in which this relationship has changed. For example, during the 1990s and early 2000s, exports from Japan to the United States were significantly higher than they are today.

This could be due to several factors, including a strong yen/weak dollar exchange rate during that period or even an increase in the popularity of Japanese luxury cars among Americans during this period.

This article will examine the statistics of JDM auto exports to the USA over the past three decades and analyze any emerging trends in this industry, as well as go over stats related to other Japanese exports to the United States.

Top Japanese Exports to the USA

Electronic equipment

Japan is one of the largest exporters of electronic equipment to the United States. The majority of this equipment is sold directly to U.S. consumers, but Japan also sells some of its electronic equipment to U.S.-based companies that resell it to consumers in other countries. The top five exports from Japan include Integrated Circuits; Computers; Telephone Equipment; Video Recorders and Reproducers; and Radio and Television Receivers.


Japan is a leading exporter of machinery to the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Japan’s machinery exports to the United States rose by 6.9 percent in 2020 and totalled $7.1 billion. Japan’s machinery exports consist mainly of manufacturing equipment, including industrial robots and computers, as well as office machines such as copiers and printers. Japan also produces aircraft parts that are exported to the United States.

Optical and medical equipment

Japan is also one of the leading exporters of optical and medical equipment to the USA. Some of these items are as follows:

Optical goods: These include lenses, mirrors, prisms, and other devices that are used in telescopes and microscopes. They are usually made from glass or plastic materials but can also be made from metal alloys such as titanium or steel.

Medical equipment: This includes items such as x-ray machines or ultrasound scanners which are used for diagnostic purposes; it also includes items like hearing aids which are designed for use by patients who suffer from hearing loss or other conditions affecting their ability to hear clearly (i.e., people with advanced age).


Japan exports many different types of plastics to the United States. In 2016, it exported over $7 billion worth of plastic goods to the U.S., including several different types of plastics. Japan exports a large amount of polyethylene, which is used in packaging materials and other consumer goods.

It also exports a lot of polypropylene, which is used in plastic bags and containers for food storage. In addition to these two main categories, Japan also exports other types of plastics like low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Iron and steel products

Japan is one of the largest exporters of iron and steel products to the United States. In 2017, Japan exported $5.3 billion worth of these goods to the U.S., according to the International Trade Administration (ITA).

Iron and steel products are manufactured from raw materials such as iron ore, coal, and limestone. The raw materials are processed into pig iron, which is then converted into steel by adding carbon or other alloying agents.

The majority of Japan’s iron and steel exports consist of unwrought flat-rolled products, including plates, sheets, and strips. In 2017, these accounted for more than half (51 percent) of all Japanese iron/steel exports to the U.S., according to ITA data.

Other major Japanese iron/steel exports include castings; nonferrous wire; bars/rods/shapes; pipes/tubes; tubes/pipes (seamless); tubes/pipes (welded); and valves (except hydraulic).

Organic chemicals

Japan exports a wide range of organic chemicals to the United States. This includes several chemical compounds that are used in the production of other products, as well as chemicals that are used directly by consumers.

For example, Japan is one of the leading suppliers of benzene and ethylene. Benzene is a solvent and precursor to various chemicals, including styrene and phenol. Ethylene is used to make plastics and other products.

Ships and boats

Japan is one of the top producers of ships in the world and is also one of the largest exporters of ships to the United States. In 2014, Japan exported $1.3 billion worth of ships to the United States.

Japan also exports other types of commercial vessels such as passenger ships, fishing vessels, and cruise liners; however, these types of vessels account for less than 10% of total exports each year.

Toys, games, and sports equipment

Toys and games are one of Japan’s major exports to the United States, accounting for more than $4.5 billion in annual sales.

Trading Cards

Japan is one of the largest trading card markets in the world. They export their cards to the United States and other countries around the world.

Japan’s trading card industry is led by companies like Konami and Bandai, which produce their cards. However, they also import cards from other countries like America, Canada, and France. They also import cards from other Asian countries such as China and Korea.


jdm car

You may have noticed more JDM imports on the roads, as we have seen a consistent increase in JDM importing since 2011. This has been a welcome change for many car enthusiasts.

The JDM cars have higher quality and more performance capabilities and are becoming increasingly affordable. The rise is expected to continue as companies discover why Japanese cars are so popular and improve their performance models to compete with the excellence of JDM vehicles.

The number of vehicles exported from Japan to the USA is increasing

The number of vehicles exported from Japan to the USA has been increasing over time. In 2018, a total of 3,134,179 vehicles were exported from Japan to the USA. 1991 was the year with the highest number of exports (4,080,907), with 1990 being the second-highest (3,899,325).

Acura NSX

JDM imports increased 5.5% from 2017 to 2018

The news isn’t all bad, though. JDM imports in 2018 were up 5.5% from 2017. But the total number of cars coming over is still lower than it was at its peak in 2016. So, you might want to act fast if you’re looking for a Nissan Skyline from the ’90s, a Mitsubishi Eclipse from the early 2000s, or any other classic Japanese model that’s been on your mind lately.

More than half of imported JDM cars are from the 90s

JDM Nissan Skylines

As you’re narrowing down your search for the perfect Japanese import, it’s worth looking into some general trends.

Roughly 54% of all imports are from the 1990s.

The most popular maker is Nissan, with 61% of all JDM vehicle exports, followed by Toyota with 22%.

These cars include various makes like the Skyline and Honda Integra Type R. For your average car owner looking for a solid ride at an affordable price, look no further than the 90s!

So far as pricing goes, 60% of imports are priced between $5K and $15K in US dollars. Taking into account shipping costs (usually around $1K) and taxes (around 2%), you’ll be paying about $8K for a reliable car that will last you years.

The highly desirable 1989 Nissan Skyline R32 became legal to import to the USA in 2014

The Nissan Skyline R32 was first released in 1989, but they were never legal to import to the United States until 2014. R32s are one of the most sought-after cars by JDM enthusiasts, and GTR models are particularly popular.

This is due to their reputation as a fast car that handles well, as well as the opportunity to modify them heavily for more performance. The Skyline GT-R has appeared in video games like Gran Turismo, Need for Speed, and Forza Motorsport.

Top 90s JDM vehicles in the USA

The most popular JDM vehicles in the USA tend to be cars from the 90s. Collectors love these cars due to their reliability and high-performance capabilities. Check out our article on the 20 Best JDM Cars of the 90s

The Top 90s JDM vehicles in the USA are as follows:

Nissan Skyline R32
R32 Nissan Skyline

The Nissan Skyline R32 is a sports car that was produced between 1989 and 1994. It had a 2.6-litre straight-six engine, which produced up to 217 horsepower. The Skyline R32 has become popular in the United States because it is a rare vehicle, and people like to collect rare cars.

The Nissan Skyline R32 was first released in 1989 as a successor to the Nissan Skyline GTS25t, which was also known as the Nissan Fairlady Z. The Nissan Skyline R32 was sold as a sedan or coupe and had rear-wheel drive with independent suspension and unequal-length A-arms (Macpherson strut). It also came with disc brakes on all four wheels.

In 1992, Nissan upgraded the engine of the Skyline R32 by adding DOHC (dual overhead camshaft) technology to increase power output by 20 horsepower over its predecessor at 240 hp total output while still retaining similar fuel economy ratings at 20/26 mpg city/highway, respectively according to EPA estimates based on manual transmission models only where applicable (automatic transmission models were rated at 18/25 mpg city/highway).

View R32 Nissan Skyline GT-Rs listed for sale.

Read our R32 Nissan Skyline Ultimate Guide

Read our Nissan Skyline Buying Guide

Nissan Skyline R33
Nissan Skyline r33

The Nissan Skyline R33 is a Japanese sports car that was produced from 1993 to 1998. It is the successor to the Nissan Skyline GT-R and is one of the most popular classics in the United States.

The Skyline R33 is available with a 2.6-litre straight-six engine that produces 175 horsepower and goes 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds. The body style was designed by Mamoru Aoki, who also designed the Infiniti Q45. While it was sold as a sedan in Japan, it was only available as a coupe in America due to safety regulations.

The Nissan Skyline R33 is popular in America because it offers good performance for its price point and has been featured in many racing games such as Gran Turismo 6 and Forza Motorsport 4.

View R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R, GTST, GTS, and GTS4 listed for sale

Read our R33 Nissan Skyline Ultimate Guide

Read our Nissan Skyline Buying Guide

Nissan Skyline R34
Nissan Skyline R34

The Nissan Skyline R34 is a car that was produced by Nissan from 1999 to 2002. It is a sports car that has been in production since 1969 and has become very popular as it is one of the few Japanese cars with an AWD system.

The Skyline R34 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.6-litre inline-six engine that produces 276 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 282 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. This engine can be paired with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic transmission (which is rare). The car also features an all-wheel-drive system that uses a viscous coupling center differential and multi-plate clutch to distribute torque between the front wheels and rear wheels, depending on traction conditions.

The R34 comes with many different features, including power everything, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry/startup/lock/stop (with remote keyless entry), heated seats and mirrors (with defrosting), an anti-theft alarm system, dual front airbags (with side impact protection), side door impact beams made from high strength steel tubing (designed for maximum protection against side impacts), rear disc brakes on all four corners for increased stopping power during emergencies.

View R34 Nissan Skyline GTR, GTST, GTS, and GTS4 are listed for sale.

Read our R34 Nissan Skyline Ultimate Guide

Read our Nissan Skyline Buying Guide

Toyota Supra
Toyota Supra

The Toyota Supra was a sports car produced by Toyota and sold in the United States from 1993 to 1998. The Supra has been popular in the United States since its introduction, largely due to its exceptional performance, as well as its affordable price tag.

The Supra was introduced in 1993 after being released as a concept car at the Chicago Auto Show in 1992. Production of the Supra began at Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd.’s Takanezawa plant in Japan; some models were also assembled by Magna Steyr GmbH in Austria. The production version had several improvements over the concept car, including more powerful engines and improved styling.

Because it was designed to be a competitor to other sports cars such as the Nissan Skyline R33, it was powered by a 2JZ inline six-cylinder engine with an output of 276 horsepower (205 kW). The Supra also featured an all-wheel drive and an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability.

The all-wheel-drive system utilized electronic sensors to determine which wheels needed power at any given moment; this allowed drivers to take advantage of better traction on slippery surfaces without having to worry about losing control of their vehicles when making turns or accelerating quickly out of corners.

View Toyota Supra listed for sale

Read our Toyota Supra Ultimate Guide

Toyota AE86 Corolla Levin & Trueno GTV (GTS)
Toyota AE86

The Toyota AE86 Corolla Levin & Trueno GTV is a sporty car that was produced from 1983 to 1987. It was designed for the Japanese market, but it has become popular in the United States because of its unique design and affordable price.

The Toyota AE86 Corolla Levin & Trueno GTV has a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, and a 2200 cc engine. The engine produces about 135 hp at 7000 rpm and 128 lb.-ft. of torque at 5200 rpm. The car has a curb weight of about 2300 lbs., so it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 7 seconds with its manual transmission or in about 6 seconds with its automatic transmission.

The Toyota AE86 Corolla Levin & Trueno GTV is available in several colors, including white, silver metallic, black metallic, red pearl metallic, dark blue pearl metallic, and white pearl metallic. It also comes in three trim levels: SR5 (base), GT-Apex (mid), and GT-R (top). Each model has different features like different wheels, spoilers, and side skirts, depending on its trim level.

View Toyota Levin listed for sale

Nissan 180SX
Nissan 180SX

The Nissan 180SX is a sports car that was produced from 1989 to 1999. They come in two different body styles: coupe and convertible. The car had two different engine options: a single-cam KA24E or a twin-cam RB25DE. The RB25DE was more powerful and had more torque than the KA24E, but it was also heavier.

The Nissan 180SX got its name from the fact that it was smaller than other cars in its class at just under 180 inches long (about 1/8 of a mile). Its main competitor was the Honda Civic SiR hatchback, which was also sold as an Acura Integra GS-R.

The Nissan 180SX is so popular in the US because it has been featured in many video games over the years, including Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Need for Speed: Underground 2, Project Gotham Racing 4, and Forza Motorsport 4.

View Nissan 180SX listed for sale

Read our Nissan 180SX Ultimata Guide

Nissan Silvia S13
Nissan Silvia S13

The Nissan Silvia S13 is a Japanese sports car that was produced from 1984 to 1989. The Silvia S13 is one of the most popular cars in the US and has been since it first debuted.

The Nissan Silvia S13 was first introduced in 1984 as a replacement for the previous model, which had been on sale since 1982. The car was made available in both coupe and convertible variants, as well as with either a 1.8L or 2.0L engine option.

The Nissan Silvia S13 was initially marketed as an affordable alternative to other sports cars like the Mazda RX-7 and Toyota Supra (which were also popular at the time). The car was designed with performance in mind; however, it also offered a comfortable ride thanks to its suspension system and tires.

The car became popular among tuners due to its lightweight construction materials such as aluminum alloy wheels and body panels plus the fact that it has been relatively easy for them to modify over time.

View Nissan Silvia S13 listed for sale

Read our Nissan Silvia Ultimate Guide

When looking to get the most bang for your buck, it is valuable to look at what brands are in demand or to see which brands are bringing in money. Below are statistics that can help when looking for a vehicle.

Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are the most popular brands. These three Japanese automakers have been branching out into new markets lately and making a name for themselves in the United States and abroad. They’ve become so popular that they’re on almost every corner! Here’s why:

  • They all make fun-to-drive cars with great fuel economy.
  • They all make reliable vehicles with good safety ratings and long warranties.
  • They all manufacture award-winning vehicles that consumers love (think Corolla vs Accord vs Camry).

Most people import vehicles for personal use, not for resale/business

Acura NSX

If you’re considering importing a JDM vehicle, it’s important to understand the legal process and what classification your vehicle will fall into. It’s also important to know that most JDM vehicles are imported for personal use and not for resale or business purposes. The majority of people who import a JDM vehicle do so because they want a unique daily driver with styling that can’t be found on U.S.-market cars.

There is a thriving market for JDM Imports in the USA

There is a thriving market for Japanese domestic vehicle imports in the USA. While some people like to come up with their own modified JDM cars, there are still many who prefer to use this type of car to get more out of their vehicles. The US is one of the nations with the highest number of Japanese imports per capita.

The reason behind this popularity is that JDM cars are known for being reliable, safe, and low-emissions vehicles that offer a unique style and look.

The largest Japanese exporters

Nissan Silvia

The largest Japanese exporters to the USA are

  1. Toyota Motor Corporation
  2. Sony Corporation
  3. Nissan Motor Company Ltd.
  4. Panasonic Corporation.

Toyota is the world’s second-largest automaker by production volume, after General Motors. The company employs more than 300,000 people worldwide and has annual revenues of $265 billion. In the United States alone, Toyota has around 5,600 employees and produces more than 1 million vehicles per year at its plants in Kentucky, Texas, Alabama, and West Virginia. The company also exports its cars to South America as well as Europe and Asia.

Sony is a multinational electronics company that was founded by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita in 1946. It currently employs over 70,000 people worldwide and has annual revenues of $74 billion from its range of products, including cameras and audio equipment as well as video game consoles such as the PlayStation 5 (PS5).

Sony also makes smartphones under its name as well as for other manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., BlackBerry Ltd., LG Electronics Inc., Panasonic Corporation, etc.

Top Japanese Imports from the USA

The United States exports many things to Japan, including cars, food items, and energy.


The United States is a major exporter of cars to Japan. The Japanese car manufacturing industry has grown over time and now makes up more than half of all vehicles produced in Japan every year. In 2017, the United States exported over $1 billion worth of automobiles to Japan.


Japan imports a lot of food products from the United States as well. The United States exports 88 percent of its agricultural products to Japan each year. Some of the most popular items include beef and pork products, which make up almost half of all agricultural exports between these two countries each year.


The United States also exports a lot of energy products to Japan each year. It was recently reported that American energy companies are selling more natural gas than ever before!


Japan’s exports are on the rise, and that’s great news for anyone who loves cars. This increase is largely due to an increase in car exports and increased global demand for Japanese medical devices and technology. But all things considered, that’s a good thing for us!

The best part? Many of these JDM vehicles are now more than 25 years old and legal for importation into the United States. For example, 1989 Nissan Skylines are now eligible for importation, and they’re highly sought after by enthusiasts everywhere.

It remains to be seen if these trends will continue in the years ahead, but JDM auto imports aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. As new technologies continue to emerge in Japan, likely, the demand for JDM vehicles will only continue to rise, which is ultimately good for the global auto industry as a whole, but especially for car enthusiasts in the United States.

  • Images from wallpaperaccess
Christopher Weydert
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