"A couple of years ago, Hyundai went through a very powerful product cycle," says Richter. The Sonata became Hyundai's answer to the Toyota Camry; Hyundai's Elantra to Toyota's Corolla. But that has now changed.
"Japan is at the peak of their product cycle (and) is recovering from the 2011 disaster. We had a new Camry about this time last year. We had a less expensive version of the Prius -- the Prius C as it's marketed in the U.S. We've had new Lexus launches, relaunches of the Avalon and RAV 4."
"In terms of durability, Japan is still better than Korea," adds Kohei. They (Japan) spend lots of money on R&D. In some design and marketing, Korea is better than Japan -- Honda has even started to benchmark Korea as an index of design. (But) Korea's improvements are not a sustainable trend."
Toyota's sales volumes will be the highest in Asia over the next few years, concluded Kohei. And depending on growth in China, it may continue to be tops in the world.