Chinese-Japanese Island War Won By Germany

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
chinese japanese island war won by germany

Japanese carmakers and their Chinese joint venture partners lost big-time in the spat over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. The winners are German carmakers and their Chinese joint venture partners. Oddly enough, the central government ends up with a shot in the foot.

From Toyota (-48.9 percent), to Honda(-40.5 percent) and Nissan (-35.3 percent), all Japanese automakers reported drastically lower China sales for September, after smashed cars and torched dealerships turned a Japanese car into a sudden liability. (Data via Reuters.)

Islands Row ScoresheetLosersJapan Co.China PartnerSept. SalesToyotaFAW, GAC-48.9%SuzukiChangan-42.5%HondaDongfeng, GAC-40.5%NissanDongfeng-35.3%MazdaChangan-35.0%WinnersJapan Co.China PartnerSept. SalesBMWBrilliance55.0%VolkswagenFAW, SAIC25.0%AudiFAW20.5%HyundaiBAIC15.0%MercedesBAIC10.0%GMSAIC1.7%Source: Reuters and company data

German brands emerge as the ( not for TTAC readers) surprising winner of the war of words over uninhabited rocks. Sales of German branded cars rose between 10 percent in the case of Mercedes and 55 percent in the case of BMW. The biggest winner in terms of volume is Volkswagen. In September 2012, Volkswagen passenger cars sold 40,000 units more in China than in September 2011, Audi added 6,000 units. On a group level, Volkswagen should have increased its September sales by close to 50,000 units, about double its losses in Europe.

GM missed out on a chance to take global market share from its Japanese rivals.

Little contemplated: Each car lost for Japan’s makers is a car lost for a Chinese company. Foreign automakers must have joint ventures with Chinese entities, and most of them are government-owned.

A strange pattern emerges: On the losing side are mostly central government owned companies: FAW, Changan, and Dongfeng belong to the central government. GAC is owned by the Guangdong province and its capital city of Guangzhou.

On the winning side are (mostly) independent Brilliance, Beijing-owned BAIC, Shanghai-owned SAIC, and FAW. FAW loses on the Toyota side, but wins on the Volkswagen and Audi side, we’ll call that a draw until better numbers come in.

Translation: “Even if China becomes nothing but tombstones, we must exterminate the Japanese; even if we have to destroy our own country, we must take back the Diaoyu Islands.”

With Germany, and especially Volkswagen walking away as the winner, the banner in front of a Chinese Audi dealership that called for the elimination of all Japanese will likely be brought up again.

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3 of 8 comments
  • Daveainchina Daveainchina on Oct 09, 2012

    "Could America’s unofficial position be hurting GM in China?" I don't think so, I think the people just prefer BMW/MB/VW over GM. Partially has to do with size and partially that the GM competing vehicles just don't offer the same range as what comes from VW. There is also the exposure/# of dealers. This is partially why Ford has little market penetration, so few dealers. VW is everywhere, for the American dealers, you really have to look for them. And Chrysler isn't even on people's radar here at all outside of Jeep.

    • L'avventura L'avventura on Oct 09, 2012

      GM has been expanding significantly outside of urban areas recently. As we know, there is now a lottery for urban area car registrations due to congestion, and expansion of cars sales are really dependent on expansion of dealer networks into rural areas. As you say, dealer network matters, but more importantly how distributed the dealer network is matters even more. VW is at an advantageous position as you mention, but this does not explain the disparity between GM and Hyundai dealerships; which are less diversified than GM and have had a larger increase in monthly sales this last month.

  • L'avventura L'avventura on Oct 09, 2012

    WSJ has an article of how these anti-Japanese boycotts will have on impact on Chinese partners. Dongfeng is partnered with Nissan & Honda: Guangzhou is partnered with Honda & Toyota: "Japanese brands will account for just over 50% of Dongfeng's total unit sales this year, while at Guangzhou they will account for virtually all passenger-vehicle sales." The winners will be Geely (pure-play domestic brand) and Brillance (which has few Japanese ties).

  • FifaCup Loving both Interior and exterior designs.
  • FifaCup This is not good for the auto industry
  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.