Carmakers hope to rebound via Shanghai show


Shanghai’s international motor show opened to the media Saturday, allowing Japanese carmakers to unveil new models and concept vehicles in an effort to pick up sales in the world’s largest auto market.

Japanese automakers’ lineups include fuel-efficient and eco-friendly models using hybrid and electric technologies at a time when China is suffering from serious air pollution.

Showcasing their latest models, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and other domestic producers hope to reverse slumping sales in the Chinese market due to anti-Japanese sentiment following the government’s effective nationalization of the China-claimed Senkaku Islands last September.

Opening to the public Sunday, the 15th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition will run through April 29. Organizers estimate around 800,000 visitors will attend the event.

Along with Toyota and Honda, Nissan Motor Co., Mazda Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will have large booths at the show. Overseas rivals such as General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motor Co. are also taking part.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, sales of Japanese cars in the local market fell 14.3 percent in March from a year earlier to 238,300 units. In contrast, U.S. and German carmakers saw their sales jump by 31.1 percent and 24.6 percent.

Japanese carmakers’ combined share of China’s passenger car market shrank to 16.4 percent in 2012 from 19.4 percent the year before, allowing German automakers to overtake them and capture an 18.4 percent slice.

The association forecasts new car sales in China will top 20 million units this year, up from 19.3 million in 2012.