Honda Motor joined Toyota Motor in reporting a plunge in China deliveries for a second straight month, illustrating the challenge Japanese carmakers face in restoring sales amid a protracted territorial dispute.
Sales fell 54 per cent last month from a year earlier to 24,115 units, Honda said yesterday. That follows a 41 per cent drop in September, when rioters in China smashed cars and torched dealerships during demonstrations against Japan over a dispute over islands in the East China Sea.
Honda, which cut its annual profit forecast by 20 per cent this week, said demand in China might not return to normal until the Lunar New Year in February next year.
Japanese carmakers will probably miss out on sales of about 200,000 units in the fourth quarter as the political stalemate persists, industry research firm IHS Automotive estimated.
Honda managed to eke out a gain of 2.7 per cent in sales of its vehicles to Chinese consumers in the first 10 months of the year, to 494,108 units. The numbers exclude sales of Honda's premium Acura line.
Toyota, Asia's largest car manufacturer, reported on Thursday that deliveries last month declined 44 per cent from a year earlier to 45,600 vehicles, following a 49 per cent drop in September, the most in a decade.
Hyundai Motor, on the other hand, said yesterday its sales in China climbed 37 per cent to 80,598 vehicles last month from a year earlier, as the South Korean carmaker continued to gain at the expense of its Japanese rivals.
Hyundai has started its third plant in China, helping the carmaker increase supply while Toyota and Honda lick their wounds.
Meanwhile, Japan's second-biggest carmaker, Nissan Motor, said it was investing 11 billion baht (HK$2.78 billion) to build a second assembly plant in Thailand that would eventually produce 150,000 vehicles yearly.
This would ensure Thailand's position as a key export hub for Nissan, its executive vice-president, Hiroto Saikawa, said.
It was reported last month Nissan wanted to diversify its production after the anti-Japanese demonstrations in China.