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Islands dispute benefits carmakers' competitors

By Li Fangfang  (China Daily)

07:57, October 10, 2012

Mercedes-Benz cars at the 2012 Nanjing International Auto Expo that concluded on Friday. Automakers from South Korea, Germany and the United States are benefiting from the sales slump of Japanese manufacturers in China after anti-Japan protests. [Photo/China Daily]

Japanese automakers are losing market share in China to their European, US and South Korean rivals as animosity toward Japanese products amid the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands proves a drag on their sales in the world's largest automobile market.

German automakers, including Volkswagen Group, BMW AG and Daimler AG, have yet to release their sales figures for September. Analysts, though, said they expect them to reveal a "beautiful" performance, especially as those companies' Japanese competitors have been hit seriously by the anti-Japanese protests that broke out in mid-September after the Japanese government's illegal "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands.

Statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers suggest that German carmakers' share of the Chinese market for passenger cars surpassed their Japanese rivals' for the first time in August.

South Korean and US automakers have also reported that they saw their vehicle sales in China reach a record high in September.

South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp said their combined sales increased 9.5 percent year-on-year in the month, going from 116,763 vehicles in September 2011 to a record high of 127,827 vehicles last month. The South Korean company said it expects to exceed its previous goal of selling 1.25 million vehicles in the world's top automobile market in 2012.

And General Motors, the largest foreign automaker in China by sales, reported on Monday that it and its joint ventures saw their September sales reach a record high this year.

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