Diaoyu Islands

Nissan says China sales to recover in three months despite island dispute

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 5:10am


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Nissan Motor, the Japanese carmaker that sells the most cars in China, expects sales in the world's largest car market to rebound within three months, as demand for Japanese-branded vehicles recovers.

"We've seen growth in retail year on year in March and year to date," Andy Palmer, executive vice-president of the Yokohama, Japan-based carmaker said on Wednesday.

"When we are seeing retail growing, we can be pretty sure that within three months we will see wholesale coming back to a position better than the previous year."

Nissan sales in China, its largest market, fell 17 per cent to 110,000 units last month and declined 5.3 per cent in 2012, as anti-Japan sentiment related to a territorial dispute deterred consumers from buying cars made by companies including Toyota Motor.

Nissan is more affected than other Japanese carmakers by a slump in China because it has the largest proportion of sales there among its peers, selling about one in four of its cars in the country.

Nissan reported monthly China sales results based on wholesale, or sales to dealers, which have "no longer than 60 to 100 days" difference to retail sales due to the stock issues. Its shares have gained about 12 per cent this year compared with the 22 per cent advance in the benchmark Nikkei-225 Index.

Chinese consumers have shunned Japanese products since tensions flared in September over disputed islets, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

Nissan sales slumped by more than 30 per cent in the October-December quarter in China.

Palmer is more bullish than Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn, who has warned the islets dispute may lead it to review its future investment plans in China.

"It doesn't affect our strategy going forward at all," Palmer said. "Obviously we've continued to invest."