Despite the recent depreciation of the yen against the dollar, executives of foreign automakers said Jan. 16 they will not raise prices out of fear of jeopardizing sales of imported cars.Executives of Opel Japan, Rover Japan and other firms said prices should be set based on long-term prospects. Volkswagen Group Japan K.K., which enjoyed better-than-expected sales and was the top foreign brand last year, said the firm on Jan. 1 reduced prices on some of its models.According to a survey conducted by the Japan Automobile Importers Association, the average price of foreign cars declined to 3.8 million yen in 1995 from 5 million yen in 1992. The executives met reporters during a preview of the Tokyo Imported Automobile Show ’97, which opens Jan. 17 at the Tokyo Big Sight in the Ariake waterfront area.Keith Wicks, head of Saturn, a division of General Motors Japan Ltd., also said that the yen’s depreciation will not affect prices of his company’s small passenger car that will debut in April in Japan. “I don’t think it has immediate impact in pricing,” he said, although it may affect Saturn’s profits.Foreign automakers are seeing sales gaps among themselves grow as some have managed to offer lower-priced vehicles and high-quality services that meet Japanese consumers’ needs. In a sharp contrast to the continuing popularity of European cars in Japan, leaders of the Big Three U.S. automakers, which failed to reach their initial sales targets in the Japanese market last year, stressed that they need to work more on establishing their sales networks and improving the quality of their service.

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