In September, formerly red-hot sales of Japanese cars in China began to crater after cars were turned over and dealerships torched as fallout of a diplomatic row between Japan and China. Sales were down by about a half in October, and a little less than a third in November. At TTAC, we were skeptical that sales will be back to their old glory in a few months. A high ranking Toyota executive said for the first time that it will take long to recover.
“We have no choice but to believe it is going to be hard to regain the (pre-September) sales pace,” Hiroji Onishi, senior manager in charge of Toyota’s Chinese operations was quoted by Kyodo. “Deducing from past incidents, it would likely take at least one year, and we are making all sorts of adjustments to our plans.”
Onishi gave the grim assessment in a Nov. 26 meeting with union leaders. Toyota hoped to sell a million cars this year in China, the number will probably be closer to 800,000.
This report comes on top of bad news that Toyota expects Japan vehicle sales to fall by a fifth next year, Reuters reports citing an unconfirmed article in Mid-Japan Economist, a Japanese newspaper with good contacts to Toyota in Aichi, The paper says that Toyota decided to set its 2013 domestic sales target for Toyota-brand cars at 1.36 million vehicles, down from its 1.67 million target for this year, in part due to the end of government tax incentives. A Toyota spokesman said no 2013 domestic sales targets have been set.
In 2011, Japanese brands sold a combined total of 2,807,400 passenger cars in China, ahead of German brands with 2,384,700 units, data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) show.
According to Toyota, its production lost due to the tsunami amounted to 150,000 units. The company already took 200,000 units out of its China plans that stretch only as far as March 2013. The island row could affect Japan’s carmakers more than the tsunami.
Sales in China six months down the road will remain below normal levels as a result of the recent territorial dispute, a slight majority of Japanese manufacturers said in a survey by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, says The Nikkei [sub].