Japan’s top six automakers logged record-high sales volumes in 2017 thanks to a buoyant global economy and robust sales in China, data from the companies disclosed by Friday show.
Toyota Motor Corp. was at the top with record global sales of 9.38 million vehicles in 2017, up 1.7 percent from the previous year, followed by Nissan Motor Co., which improved 4.6 percent to 5.82 million units.
The two automakers, along with Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp., scored record sales in China, which has eclipsed the U.S. as the world’s largest auto market.
For Honda, robust sales of its flagship Civic compact in China, as well as growth in emerging economies, including Southeast Asia, helped the carmaker secure third place with global sales of 5.30 million vehicles, up 6.6 percent.
“Considering recent market trends, we’re expecting our sales in China will surpass those in the United States in the near future,” Honda Executive Vice President Seiji Kuraishi said at a news conference Friday while announcing an upward revision its group net profit forecast for fiscal 2017 ending in March.
Many domestic automakers are benefiting from the Chinese auto market, which remained buoyant while the U.S. market shrank for the first time in eight years in terms of new car sales.
In the United States, traditionally a key market for the Japanese, the popularity of larger vehicles grew amid a fall in oil prices, weighing on sales of sedans and smaller vehicles.
Toyota and Mazda plan to enhance their lineup of larger vehicles, such as sport utility vehicles, to boost sales in the U.S.
Japan’s fourth-largest automaker by volume in 2017 was Suzuki Motor Corp., whose global sales climbed 10.4 percent to 3.16 million vehicles, followed by Mazda, which sold 1.58 million units, up 2.1 percent.
Subaru Corp. came sixth, followed by Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Daihatsu Motor Co.