SALES of Nissan, Honda and Toyota continued to rebound in China in December but they were not strong enough to power their annual performance back to the level before Japan's illegal purchase of China's Diaoyu Islands triggered a boycott of Japanese goods.
Nissan, which has the biggest exposure to the Chinese market among all Japanese carmakers, yesterday reported a 24 percent annual drop in its China sales last month. But the sales drop marked a continued recovery from its 29.8 percent decline in November and a steep 41 percent tumble in October after the escalation of the Diaoyu Islands dispute triggered nationwide anti-Japanese protests in China.
Honda's December sales fell 19.2 percent but they were an improvement from its 29.2 percent drop in November.
Among Japanese carmakers, Toyota's sales in China fell the least last month by only 15.9 per cent from a year earlier compared with a 25 percent decline in November.
The slower drop in sales was due to Japanese carmakers offering discounts and other incentives to lure customers back as the anti-Japanese sentiment in China eased.
But the carmakers still suffered a reverse in their full-year performance.
Nissan's annual sales dropped 5.3 percent to 1.18 million deliveries while Honda's fell 3.1 percent to 598,577 units. Toyota sold a total of only 840,500 vehicles last year, down 4.9 percent from 2011 and short of its annual target of 1 million units. Toyota yesterday revised downward this year's target to 900,000 units.
But consultant IHS Automotive said that Japanese carmakers may still bear production losses of 650,000 units until 2014 if diplomatic tensions don't ease.
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