GM, Chrysler Pass on Tokyo Auto Show – Ford Not Yet Committed to Attend

General Motors Company and Chrysler Group LLC have announced that they will not exhibit at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, and Ford Motor Company is reportedly considering following suit.

GM and Chrysler were no-shows at the last Tokyo Motor Show and Ford has until the end of the month to decide whether or not it will take part in the biannual show which is scheduled for December. The official entry deadline was last November but the show’s organizers said they will not announce the final roster of attendees until April.

According to some industry insiders, the Big Three U.S. automaker’s tepid interest in the show stems from the fact that they have turned their focus from the Japanese market to China. GM Japan has cited the cost of the event as one reason for its decision not to participate in the show.

The show’s sponsors, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), changed the venue and moved the date of the event from November to December in an attempt to attract more foreign automakers. At the last show, in 2009, only 109 automakers participated. Two years earlier, 241 automakers attended the event.

According to JAMA, most of the European automakers who sat out the 2009 show have registered for this year’s event. The lineup includes Germany’s major automakers. But the show is a tougher sell for U.S. carmakers which have never generated big sales numbers from the Japanese market.

GM Asia Pacific Japan managing director Sumito Ishii said the Tokyo Motor Show is a “big event” but went on to say, “We wanted to focus on other priorities. It’s an investment versus outcome issue for us.”

GM invested millions of dollars to display five of its vehicles at the 2007 show. Last year, its two best-selling brands – Cadillac and Chevrolet – only sold 2,000 vehicles in Japan.

Ford’s numbers were slightly better, with 3,047 sales in Japan in 2010. Still, Ford has remained non-committal. Ford Japan CEO Timothy Tucker said, “we have not decided where the motor show sits in our priorities.”

This year’s show has been moved from the massive Makuhari Messe on the outskirts of Tokyo to the more intimate Tokyo Big Sight convention center located in Tokyo’s waterfront district. The theme of this year’s show is “Smart Mobility City 2011”. The focus will be on emerging automotive technologies including telematics and electric-vehicle batteries and recharging systems.

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