Diaoyu Islands

Toyota to shut Tianjin car factory for one week

Move follows falling sales of Japanese cars triggered by tension over disputed islands

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 2:23pm

Toyota Motor Corp will shut its production lines in Tianjin for a week, after a drop in sales of Japanese cars triggered by the diplomatic row between China and Japan.

The world's largest carmaker decided to close the factory, which is a joint venture with First Automobile Works, better known as FAW, from October 22 through October 28, Japan's Nikkei newspaper said yesterday.

Toyota, which plans to cut its overall output by half on the mainland this month from a year earlier, may make deeper cuts in the coming months, the paper said.

Two production lines that produce Crown and the Reiz models will be idled for a week. The remaining line, which makes models such as the Vios subcompact, will close for just two days, the paper said. The Tianjin plant produced 500,000 cars last year.

Sales of Japanese car brands tumbled 40.8 per cent year-on-year on the mainland last month amid a rise in anti-Japanese sentiment.

Last month, Toyota's sales on the mainland fell 49 per cent year-on-year to 44,100 units. Honda's were down 40.5 per cent to 33,931 units, while Nissan dipped 35.3 per cent to 76,100 units.

On the other hand, sales of foreign car brands, such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz surged. BMW said its sales in the nation rose 59 per cent year-on-year to 29,631 units last month. To take advantage of the growth momentum, BMW opened its first dealership in Beijing this week.

Local brands such as Geely Automobile also saw exceptional growth in car sales by selling 44,600 units last month, according to China Association of Automotive Manufacturers' data.

The association said the growth in Geely was ahead of other brands, but did not specify the increase.

Protests and calls for boycotts of Japanese products broke out across China in September after Japan "purchased" three of the disputed East China Sea islands, known as the Diaoyus in China and the Senkakus in Japan.

Some Japanese carmakers stopped production temporarily last month after mobs took to the streets in major mainland cities.