x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Toyota struggling in China after diplomatic row

Toyota Motor Corporation is still struggling to revive sales in China, part of a broader slump that Japanese car firms are suffering as a result of a diplomatic row between Beijing and Tokyo.

Toyota Motor Corporation is still struggling to revive sales in China, part of a broader slump that Japanese car firms are suffering as a result of a diplomatic row between Beijing and Tokyo.

Toyota's sales in China totalled about 60,000 last month, a senior company executive said, compared with 81,800 cars the company and its Chinese partners sold in November last year.

The pace of the last month's decline - about 25 percent from a year earlier - eased from the previous two months but was still "far off from our more normalised and targeted sales pace," said the Toyota executive, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Toyota's numbers indicate that sales in China by other Japanese car makers are also likely to be down. For most of those firms, sales are still falling at double-digit rates from 2011 levels, though the pace of decline has slackened recently.

Toyota is expected to announce its China sales data for November today, according to a Beijing-based company spokesman..

"It probably won't be until March or April when we see sales return to a pre-September pace," the senior executive said, echoing a consensus expressed by officials from other Japanese brands.

Demand for leading Japanese car brands in China virtually halved in September and October. That reduced the Japanese firms' collective market share in China's car market to about 17 per cent from 19 per cent at the end of August, according to the China Association of Automotive Manufacturers.

Toyota's sales fall in November followed a decline of 44 per cent in October, and almost 50 per cent in September.

Violent protests and calls for boycotts of Japanese products broke out across China in September after Japan nationalised two East China Sea islands, known as the Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, by buying them from their private owners.

Some Chinese consumers have since avoided Japanese-brand cars.

At the start of the year, Toyota said it aimed to sell a million cars annually in China. This is unlikely to be met until next year at the earliest.