One hour to answer 100 multiple choice questions. And in Japanese only! Ouch! These are the conditions for a new test which is becoming popular in Japan. It tests your knowledge of cars and, if you are successful, rewards you with what the Japanese call “Car Meister (Expert) Certification”.
Wanting to know what this test was all about, I drove to Nissan’s world headquarters in Yokohama, the location of the last test, to put my car on the line and push my Japanese skills to the limit. Having not taken an exam for over 30 years, I was sweating after 30 minutes.
The exam has been running for two years and has tested over 5,800 people in three different degrees of difficulty. I started with level 3, the entry level, and finished the 100th question in the 56th minute, strumming just inside the one hour time limit. Think about it, 100 questions in an hour means you have to read and answer each question in 36 seconds. Level 1 is so difficult that only 14 people passed it nationally. The test not only tests knowledge of Japanese cars, but includes questions about the global auto industry.
These 100 questions aren’t for those die-hard car freaks who just want to test their knowledge to see what they know. The test is actually used by car dealers as a way to test the knowledge of their salespeople. It makes sense because some salespeople I’ve met don’t really have a clue of their competitor’s past, or even the history of the birth of the automobile, let alone the details of their own brand.
What’s strange is that it’s not just Japanese people who want to torture themselves with a knowledge test like this. When I mentioned that an auto expert test was gaining popularity in Japan, many of my colleagues and friends overseas wanted to try it as well. So for their benefit and yours, here is a taste of this test. I have translated 15 questions into English for the level 3 exam. Answers are listed at the bottom of the story. By using the rule of one question every 36 seconds, as with the exam, you have 9 minutes to complete the next test. Okay, go ahead, and don’t take a look at the answers until you’re done.
Q1. In 2015, a single car manufacturer produced more than 10 million units. Which of the following manufacturers was it?
1) Toyota Group
2) Volkswagen Group
3) GM Group
4) Ford Group
Q2. In 2015, which country produced the most cars?
Q3. Which manufacturer has won the constructor title of the World Rally Championship three times in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and the driver’s title in 1995, 2001 and 2003?
Q4. In 1978, what was the first production car to use a 4-wheel multi-channel electronic anti-lock braking system?
1) Toyota Crown
2) Mercedes Benz S Class
3) BMW 5 Series
4) Volvo 240
Q5. In 1918, a global tire manufacturer was named after its founder Shojiro Ishibashi. Which tire manufacturer is it?
3) Toyo Rubber
Q6. Which of the following companies was the first Japanese automaker to compete in F1 in 1964 using an in-house developed race car and engine?
Q7. In 1975, Japan’s first 4WD passenger car was released. What was the model?
1) Subaru Léone
2) Nissan Bluebird
3) Toyota Corona
4) Mitsubishi Lancer
Q8. Who was the first automaker to bring 3-point seat belts to the masses in 1959?
Q9. Which two Japanese companies launched revolutionary products in 1997?
1) Toyota (Prius) and Sony (PlayStation Gran Turismo)
2) Honda (NSX) and Nintendo (Super Mario)
3) Nissan (Skyline GT-R) and Nintendo (Gameboy)
4) Mazda (MX-5) and PlayStation (Call of Duty)
Q10. Which of the following Japanese luxury brands was not born in 1989?
Q11. In 1973, the BMW 2002 offered the first European technology. what was that?
1) Direct injection engine
4) Driver’s airbag
Q12. Which of the following Japanese car names does not exist?
1) Toyota ISIS
2) Daihatsu nude
3) Suzuki Cappuccino
4) Nissan Micromax
Q13. In which of the following 007 films has James Bond used a Toyota 2000GT?
1) Doctor No
2) finger of gold
3) You only live twice
4) From Russia with love
Q14. Which of the following world premieres did the original Honda NSX not use?
1) All aluminum body
2) 4-channel independent ABS
3) Electric power steering
4) Torque vector AWD
Q15. What mass produced car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, making it the fastest production car on the planet?
1) Nissan GT-R
2) Lamborghini Aventador
3) Porsche 911 Turbo
4) Tesla Model S
Answers: 1) 1, 2) 3, 3) 4, 4) 2, 5) 1, 6) 3, 7) 1, 8) 3, 9) 1, 10) 1, 11) 3, 12) 4, 13) 3, 14) 4, 15) 4.