Japanese car sales recovering in China

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 5:30am

Japan's top three carmakers saw vehicle sales on the mainland rise sharply last month but analysts remain cautious, attributing the growth to a low base effect and warning that a territorial dispute between China and Japan in the East China Sea was still weighing on buyer sentiment.

Japanese carmaker Honda Motor said yesterday it sold 73,990 cars with its mainland joint-venture partners last month, more than double the 33,930 units in September last year. The sales also rose 33.2 per cent from 55,553 vehicles in August this year.

Nissan Motor and its mainland joint-venture partners' sales jumped by 83.4 per cent year on year to 117,100 units last month, while the figure was 36.1 per cent higher than that in August when 86,000 cars were sold.

"Results drastically surpassed those of last September, which was deeply influenced by the island dispute," Nissan said yesterday.

A territorial dispute over the Diaoyu Islands that erupted between China and Japan in August last year sparked a series of demonstrations and a boycott of Japanese goods that weighed heavily on sales of Japanese-branded vehicles.

Toyota also said that its mainland sales had rebounded, posting year-on-year growth of 63.5 per cent last month to 72,100 units.

Olive Xia, an analyst with brokerage firm Core Pacific-Yamaichi, said the strong growth in September was mainly because of a low base effect, and the Diaoyu Islands dispute was still having an impact on Japanese-branded car sales.

"Also, auto sales in September are traditionally better after a low season in August," she said. "It's no surprise that the sales figures of the three Japanese brands saw improvement."

Xia said that Honda's sales on the mainland would recover further by the end of this year as it would launch new models. "But I don't expect significant rebounds in sales for Toyota and Nissan," she said.