If you’re even a little enthusiastic about cars and the automotive industry, you may well have seen the letters JDM thrown into the mix every now and then. If you’ve always wondered exactly what those three letters mean, then below you’ll find the answer. JDM stands for Japanese Domestic Market and refers to any car or part that was originally manufactured for sale in Japan’s own national market (IE, not for export). Here’s everything you need to know about JDM.
What is the “Japanese Domestic Market”?
As overseas customers of Japanese-brand cars like Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and others, we have, over the years, become very accustomed to the quality and high standard of Japanese cars. They’re notoriously reliable, fuel-efficient and packed with innovation. Did you know, however, that Japan is also a country whose domestic customers are treated to many of these innovations before us, the export customers? It’s true. Some models of famous Japanese marques may never be available in the US or European market, or at least not for several years. The Civic Type R, for example, has been around for years in Japan, but it wasn’t until 2015 that it was to be seen in the US market.
“Why not?!” we hear you cry. It seems outrageous, but that’s the way it is. Do not despair, however, because we now have something called the Japanese Domestic Market, or JDM. This network of vehicles allows export customers to acquire vehicles that were originally manufactured to the Japanese domestic specification, allowing us to enjoy innovations and styles that we otherwise would have no access to.
What are the advantages of JDM?
There are several key benefits of purchasing a JDM vehicle. Below we’ve listed some of the most important ones.
On average, US drivers will change cars far less frequently than drivers in Japan. Americans develop more of an attachment to their car, even if it’s not the very latest thing, and won’t part with it until they have to. The Japanese, on the other hand, tend to prefer chasing innovation, which makes them switch cars more often. This means that used JDM cars are often closer to new than many used cars on the US market.
2. Flexibility – you don’t need the whole car
JDM isn’t just about purchasing whole vehicles. In fact, some of the JDM markets involve the buying and selling of parts made for Japanese domestic cars. Some high-performance cars in the JDM category may contain parts that some believe are superior in quality to those parts manufactured in or for the United States domestic market. This makes JDM options very attractive. It doesn’t apply to all parts, however, since cars assembled in the US may still use the same key parts as their Japanese counterparts.
It turns out that the Japanese really love choice when it comes to the automotive market. JDM vehicles are often tailored to a range of specifications that are otherwise unavailable in the US or other markets --- different engine sizes, different components, different horse-power…the list goes on.
4. Superior Engineering
Where other markets are focused on volume, aesthetic and comfort, the Japanese tend to focus on the quality of engineering. The first time you purchase a JDM car, you might discover that even a new car’s interior is not as plush or sleek as an export model or that of a competitor. It may appear plain, functional and even sterile. Other aspects, like the engine, for example, are engineered to the nth degree; far more than their international counterparts. This is what the Japanese market looks favorably on. Where the typical international consumer might be counting the cupholders, the Japanese customer will be inspecting the gaskets!
Is JDM a popular thing? Why haven’t I heard about it until now?
It’s fair to say that up until now, JDM has been somewhat restricted by a somewhat small circle of enthusiasts both interested and willing to learn in more detail how to become a JDM buyer. Importing a car, even from a friendly nation such as Japan, is not always a simple task for the average consumer. You might not have heard about JDM because in the past it was something of a club for experts. As technology changes, however, our knowledge and ease of participation increases.
The Japanese Domestic Market represents an important arena for automotive enthusiasts. Where nationwide market research results and other restrictions have prevented the Japanese domestic version of cars from coming to the fore, JDM allows those interested parties to partake in the amazing choice and quality that Japan’s internal market provides. Let’s all of us enjoy the benefits of JDM!