By on April 21, 2013

The booths of Japanese automakers were mobbed today just like those of any other automaker at the Shanghai Motor Show. The action at the showrooms are a different matter. Sales of Japanese cars in China remain problematic more than half a year after rowdy crowds took to the streets last September to torch Japanese cars and showrooms. Sales of Japanese cars in China were down 14.3 percent in March while sales of U.S. carmakers were up 31.1 percent. Sales of German brands rose 24.6 percent.

Toyota does not expect to reach positive territory until August this year, Hiroji Onishi, head of Toyota’s China operations, told a small circle of reporters this morning at the Shanghai show. Asked why August, another Toyota executive quipped: “After previous riots in 2005 and 2010, it took half a year to recover. We figure, this time it might take twice as long.”

Others think it might take longer. The worries that Japanese cars get set on fire or smashed have largely abated in China. However, the image of Japanese has taken a lasting hit. “I don’t want to apologize to my friends for my choice of cars,” an American-educated Chinese executive who works for a European pharmaceutical company told me today in the lobby of my Shanghai hotel. He is in the market for a new car, and cross-shopped the Land Cruiser Prado and the Audi Q5. He now tilts toward the Q5, despite the massive recall of the DSG double-clutch gearbox last March.

Onishi said there are “other issues” that hold his company back from recouping lost market share. Those issues being a lack of new and exciting product. Toyota hopes to get back in the good graces of Chinese buyers with revamped versions of the low-cost Vios sedan and its Yaris hatchback sibling. The approximately $14,500 cars probably aren’t low-cost enough to compete with the $9,000 Chevrolet Sail. Onishi said the Daewoo-platformed car was the only low cost car that so far has made a big splash in China.

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10 Comments on “Shanghai Auto Show: Toyota Struggles With Island Issue In China, Tries To Re-Gain Share With Low-Cost Cars...”

  • avatar

    Interesting color. Back in the 50s American car companies offered such a color, I believe they called it “coral”

    • 0 avatar

      “Canyon Coral”, but the Toyota color has more orange in it:

      • 0 avatar

        Didn’t GM combine coral with one or two other colors? I seem to remember that color with a white roof, and another with black on the lower part of the car, below a chrome spear. I was very young in the ’50s, so I may be mis-remembering, but I recall my dad noting that GM was out-doing everybody in the color combinations back then.

        • 0 avatar

          Yep, two-tones were pretty popular. The first image that came to mind when skor mentioned coral was of ’56 & ’57 Buicks with white tops and coral bottoms, split at the side chrome spear.

          50’s Buicks have some kind of Lorenzian hold on my brain. I was born in late ’54 so I suspect I imprinted on them like a baby goose.

  • avatar
    Fat Man Of La Mancha

    Aww, what a cute little fat piggy… wait, that’s a car?

    • 0 avatar

      It does, doesn´t it? Anyway it looks better than the Etios foisted upon us Brazilians by Toyota.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s called the Vios, and basically was a Yaris in sedan form. Do they still display these in the Shanghai auto show? These are old, the new one’s just been launched, looking rather like a shrunken Camry.

        These are ubiquitous in Jakarta, being the official Taxi vehicles, much like your own Crown Victoria. They also sells pretty well privately, so they’re everywhere. Pretty good little car.

        Marcello, the Etios is atrocious! It looks like that ‘cheap’ from Toyota did not include the service of stylist.

  • avatar

    Eh, to me it’s just a plain jane American Yaris sedan with a few splashes of chrome and a pink coral paint job. Nothing special, but perfectly suitable for a low cost vehicle.

    On the other hand….. I do spy with my eye a certain ‘Panda’ Trueno AE86 in the background…..

  • avatar

    “After previous riots in 2005 and 2010, it took half a year to recover. We figure, this time it might take twice as long.”

    The problem has not been really dealt with is only shadowed by our man DMZ resides in north of the 38th parallel.

    Or they’re quietly negotiating under the table. None the less the petty bourgeois of middle kingdom has to feel that the issues is really settled to their favour.
    That is something PM Abe has’nt got the real word of wisdom from Dear Abby yet.

  • avatar

    “Onishi said there are “other issues” that hold his company back from recouping lost market share.”

    I.E., making cars that people don’t want to buy. Not because they’re “Japanese,” but because they aren’t as good as the competition.

    How long is Toyota going to bore us with the “nationalism” excuse as a justification for their piss-poor performance in the world’s largest car market?

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