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Japan car sales on increase in China

Nissan and Honda join Toyota in double-digit climbs in January

Gulf News

Tokyo: Nissan Motor Company and other Japanese carmakers saw their China car sales improve in January but figures were skewed due to weak holiday-hit sales a year earlier and questions still hang over progress made since anti-Japan protests last year.

Showroom traffic in the world’s largest auto market slows dramatically during China’s Lunar New Year holiday, a week-long break that fell in January last year but starts on February 9 this year.

That calendar mismatch helped Nissan and Honda Motor Company join Toyota Motor Corporation in reporting double-digit climbs in January sales, the first rise since a territorial row over islands in the East China Sea sent sales tumbling in September.

Nissan said sales jumped 22.2 per cent in January to 115,700 vehicles, while Honda’s increased 22 per cent. Toyota, which reported on Friday, logged a 23.5 per cent rise.

Even without the calendar impact, though, the effect of the territorial row has waned, with the pace of declines in December much less than drops of almost half seen in September and October, helped by generous incentives.

“Given the difference in the number of working days between this year and last due to the Spring Festival, there is a need to compare the January-February figure,” Nissan said in an emailed statement. “That said, we think the situation is improving compared with a month ago.”

A Toyota executive said last month that showroom traffic in China was recovering to levels seen before the crisis and at a pace faster than expected.

Other automakers have been more downbeat, with Mazda’s China chief Noriaki Yamada saying in November that he expected first-quarter sales to slide by about a fifth from year-earlier levels but that the impact of the row should fade by the end of March.

After years of breakneck expansion, China vehicles sales have lost some steam, climbing 4.3 per cent to 19.3 million in 2012. This year, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers estimates growth of 7 per cent.