Toyota floods China with new models to double sales

Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp. is adding at least 20 new models in China, where it intends to more than double car deliveries by 2015 from 2011 levels, partly by selling more hybrids and improving customer service.

The automaker projects annual China sales of 1.8 million units in three years, or 15 percent of its worldwide deliveries, Atsushi Niimi, executive vice president, said Thursday at an auto forum in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

Toyota sold 883,000 vehicles in China last year.

The company outsold all automakers globally in the first half and leads sales in Japan and the U.S., while trailing rivals including General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. in China, where rising incomes have fueled auto market growth.

The addition of new models and cars and vehicles targeted at the elderly and disabled people will help Toyota narrow the gap, Niimi said.

“There are people who think Toyota has fallen behind,” in China, Niimi said at a speech at the forum. “We want to change the impression from a laggard to a leader in China.”

Toyota’s China sales target trails that of Nissan, which plans to introduce about 30 models and to double deliveries to more than 2.3 million units by 2015. Nissan sold 1.25 million cars in the country last year, 42 percent more than its larger Japanese rival.

Nissan, the biggest Japanese automaker by sales in China, said Thursday deliveries in the country have been hurt as it cut back on marketing events after violent anti-Japan protests last month in connection with the territory row over the Senkaku Islands.

Nissan has reduced promotions on the advice of Chinese authorities, Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga told reporters at the auto forum Thursday. The effect is difficult to quantify, he said.