BEIJING – Japanese passenger car sales in China soared 72.2 percent in November after demand slumped amid the Senkaku territorial dispute, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
The industry group said Monday that month-on-month rise came after falls of 29.5 percent in September and 38.2 percent in October. Despite the improvement, Japanese sales were still down 36.1 percent from November 2011 levels.
“Compared with October, sales of Japanese passenger cars started to have (a) clear increase last month,” it said in a statement, without giving an absolute figure.
Overall vehicle sales in China — the world’s largest car market — rose 8.2 percent year on year in November to around 1.79 million units, a sharp increase in momentum, the industry group said. In October, growth had stood at 5.3 percent.
The bitter dispute flared in mid-September after Japan nationalized the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by China, sparking huge protests across China and calls for boycotts of Japanese products.
The row has affected Japanese automakers operating in China and helped boost demand for other foreign brands.
Toyota, Honda and Nissan scaled back their production in China as sales slumped.
But as anti-Japanese sentiment dissipates, they have started to rev up output and are offering discounts on new cars — along with compensation for vehicles damaged during the protests.
“Sales of Japanese cars will improve month by month. They will be better in December and January,” predicted Harry Chen, a Shenzhen-based analyst with Shenyin Wanguo Securities.
“This is mainly because of the restoration of production and the promotions offered by Japanese carmakers. I think sales will return to the 2011 level by February,” Chen said.
Japanese carmakers’ market share in China stood at 16.6 percent last month, lower than the 23 percent recorded before the protests erupted, according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers data.
For the first 11 months of this year, total auto sales increased 4 percent to 17.5 million units, with full-year sales expected to exceed 19 million units, it said.
China’s vehicle sales hit 18.51 million units last year, a rise of just 2.5 percent, down from an annual increase of more than 32 percent in 2010, as the government scrapped incentives and cities put limits on car numbers.
Toyota unit eyes Indonesia
Toyota Housing Corp. is considering a joint business venture in Indonesia with a local firm, it was learned Tuesday.
It would be the first full-fledged business abroad by the Toyota Motor Corp. unit.
Toyota Housing hopes to capitalize on the parent firm’s name recognition in Indonesia, where it enjoys a big market share.
The home builder is making arrangements to start construction in 2013 of condominiums that will be rented to employees of Japanese firms dispatched to Indonesia.