Ja­panese car firms face rocky sales road

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By LI FANGFANG li­fang­fang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Con­di­tions have im­proved in China for Ja­panese ve­hi­cle pro­duc­ers, which saw their sales slump amid the Diaoyu Is­lands dis­pute in 2012. But the Ja­panese com­pa­nies are still fac­ing tough chal­lenges in re­gain­ing mar­ket share.

Honda Mo­tor Co said its March sales in China dipped 2 per­cent year-on-year to about 60,000 ve­hi­cles, fol­low­ing a 31 per­cent surge in the first two months. The com­pany at­trib­uted the de­cline to de­lays in­volv­ing two up­graded mod­els pro­duced by its joint ven­ture with Guangzhou Au­to­mo­bile Group Co Ltd, which it­self re­ported a sales drop of 13 per­cent in­March.

The com­pany aims to deliver 900,000 Honda ve­hi­cles in China this year, which would be up 19 per­cent from last year.

Nis­sanMo­tor Co Ltd’s sales ac­cel­er­ated 26 per­cent yearon-year in March, com­pared with 18 per­cent in the first two months. Sales were sup­ported by the launch of an up­graded sport util­ity ve­hi­cle, the fastest-grow­ing sec­tor in China.

The leading Ja­panese au­tomaker, Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp, said on Tues­day that sales in March jumped 19.1 per­cent the mar­ket share of Ja­panese

au­tomak­ers in China in Fe­bru­ary, ac­cord­ing to China As­so­ci­a­tion ofAu­to­mo­bile

Man­u­fac­tur­ers year-on-year to 90,400 ve­hi­cles. First-quar­ter sales surged 23.4 per­cent. Toy­ota’s sales have in­creased year-onyear for seven con­sec­u­tive months.

Toy­ota has set a sales tar­get of 1.1 mil­lion ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing its pre­mium-branded Lexus, in China this year. That would rep­re­sent growth of 19.9 per­cent. But gen­er­ally, Toy­ota is los­ing ground to other for­eign ve­hi­cle mak­ers in China, the world’s largest auto mar­ket.

Last year, Toy­ota didn’t even­make the top five in sales.

Ac­cord­ing to the China As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers, Ja­panese ve­hi­cle pro­duc­ers’ com­bined mar­ket share in­creased to 13.4 per­cent in Fe­bru­ary from 11.9 per­cent a year ear­lier. Ger­many-based com­pa­nies had a 23.4 per­cent share.

Ja­panese au­tomak­ers’ sales in China took a hit in Septem­ber 2012, as the dis­pute over Ja­pan’s il­le­gal “pur­chase” of China’s Diaoyu Is­lands in the EastChina Sea kept lo­cal con­sumers away from Ja­panese com­pa­nies’ show­rooms. Al­though things have picked up for Ja­panese ve­hi­cle pro­duc­ers since the sec­ond half of 2013, an­a­lysts said the sit­u­a­tion re­mains frag­ile, be­cause the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion is still un­set­tled.

Cui Dong­shu, deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the China Pas­sen­ger Car As­so­ci­a­tion, said that even with­out po­lit­i­cal fac­tors, Ja­panese ve­hi­cle com­pa­nies would be los­ing mar­ket share in China to US and Ger­man ri­vals.

The Ja­panese com­pa­nies “lack strate­gic prod­uct of­fer­ings in en­try-level sec­tors as well as in lower-tier cities in cen­tral and western parts of China,” said Cui.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.