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Japanese carmakers gain momentum in China despite downward trend

By Zhang Dandan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-23 13:13
A Toyota Corolla Sport hatchback sits parked ahead of a test-drive at an unveiling event in Tokyo, Japan. [Photo/Getty Images]

Despite China's 14-month fall in car sales, major Japanese brands are bucking the downturn with increasing sales in the first eight months this year.

China's overall vehicle sales stood at 1.96 million in August, a fall of 6.9 percent from the same period last year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. And it is the 14th month of sales falls since July 2018.

Total vehicle sales in the country in the first eight months of 2019 totaled 16.1 million, a drop of 11 percent from the same period last year.

However, Japan's Nissan, Toyota and Honda achieved decent sales in China from January to August.

Nissan's sales in China grew for the second straight month in August, up 2 percent from the previous year to 129,659.

According to Nissan, 10,459 of its seventh-generation Altima sedan sold in August, up 12.5 percent year-on-year. And its 14th-generation Sylphy model had total sales of 11,467 last month.

In August, the automaker sold a total of 45,216 sport utility vehicles, increasing 16.5 percent from the year earlier. In the first eight months, sales of Nissans in China edged up 0.2 percent to 956,270.

During the same eight months, Toyota delivered a total of 892,866 vehicles in China, an increase of 7.7 percent on the previous year.

Insiders hold that sales achieved by Toyota in China are being generated by the Toyota New Global Architecture, or the TNGA, as well as its compelling product portfolio.

The TNGA-based models include the Avalon hybrid, as well as hybrid versions of the Camry, Corolla and Levin sedans.

Honda sold 124,155 vehicles in August in China, up 5.9 percent from a year earlier. As for the sales achieved from January to August, the brand sold 985,514 vehicles, an increase of 18.4 percent from the same period in 2018. Honda's two most sought-after models, the Civic sedan and the CR-V crossover each sold more than 20,000 units in August.

The hybrid variants of Honda's CR-V, Accord, Inspire and Odessey together achieved sales of 13,274 in August.

Honda and Toyota have demonstrated strength in hybrid technology that few others can match, according to Yang Jian, managing editor of Automotive News China.

Hybrids have not only enabled the two major Japanese carmakers to buck the downturn in China's new energy car market, but have also helped position both companies for future sales and profit growth, Yang added.

Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consulting firm Automotive Foresight, said: "The sales growth of Japanese auto brands reflects that China's automotive market is maturing and customers here are rational when buying a car."

Japanese vehicles are widely accepted for their excellent quality, favorable brand reputation and fuel economy, which has been proved by an array of top-selling models such as the Corolla and the CR-V, Zhang noted.

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