In protests in China, Japanese car sales suffer

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HONG KONG – Japanese automakers suffered a drop in sales in China last month and halved their production in China this month after violent anti-Japanese protests against Japanese brand cars and even their owners.

Toyota said Tuesday that its dealer sales in China fell 49% in September compared to the month a year earlier, while Honda said its sales fell 40% and Nissan said its sales had fallen. decreased by 35%.

Mazda said last week that its sales fell 35% last month. Industry-wide sales data is not yet available for September, as not all automakers have yet reported their sales. Sales by automakers to dealerships were up 7 percent for the first eight months of this year compared to the period a year earlier. But dealers have complained about the rapid increase in inventories of unsold cars, making it likely that automakers will have to slow shipments to dealerships at some point, unless the current economic slowdown in China suddenly reverses. .

Japanese automakers have sharply cut their production schedules until the end of October, a sign that they see little immediate improvement on the horizon, although they have so far followed the traditions of the companies in s. refraining from making redundancies. Automakers are only releasing their dealer sales figures in China, as the government suspended the release of retail dealer sales figures to consumers last year.

When a 51-year-old man in Xi’an made the innocent mistake on September 15 while driving his family in a Toyota Corolla past an anti-Japanese protest, he was beaten so badly that he remains partially paralyzed. brain damage. while the car was destroyed. Law enforcement authorities in another province arrested the prime suspect in the beating last week, a Xi’an police spokesperson said by telephone on Tuesday.

The attack on the man and his car was briefly the most searched topic on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site that looks like Twitter, as many suggested the protesters had gone too far.

In a separate video widely distributed on the internet in China and broadcast on television abroad, a mob knocked over a Honda CR-V police car in Shenzhen and took turns smashing it with batons.

Protesters took to the streets over a territorial dispute involving claims of Chinese and Japanese sovereignty over a cluster of uninhabited islands in northeast Taiwan, known as China’s Diaoyu and Senkaku in Japan. Anti-Japanese protests calmed down during China’s National Day Week last week.

But the problem continues to simmer, with the Chinese government announcing it will continue to send surveillance vessels into waters around the island that have been patrolled for decades by the Japanese coastguard. Chinese fishing boats may also try to reach the islands after the holidays, as it has become politically more difficult for the Chinese or Japanese governments to stop them.

Japanese automakers were struggling in China even before this fall, said Yale Zhang, managing director of Automotive Foresight, a consulting firm in Shanghai.

“Even without this political problem, Japanese manufacturers made many mistakes in areas such as product planning,” he said.

With the exception of Nissan, Japanese automakers have been much slower to introduce new models than the three market leaders in China – General Motors, Volkswagen and Hyundai. From January to July of this year, before the anti-Japanese protests began, all of the top 10 best-selling models in China were produced by these three companies, Zhang noted. He added that this was the first time in many years that only three companies produced the top 10 sales.

The three leaders appear to have gained more market share to the detriment of Japanese automakers this fall, with Hyundai sales increasing 9.5% last month from a year earlier and General Motors sales by 1.7. %. Volkswagen’s sales have also increased, but the company’s practice of publishing separate figures by brand and providing annual figures instead of monthly figures makes it difficult to say how many.

The attack that partially paralyzed the man in Xi’an coincided with reports of damage to other Japanese-made cars in that city, although no other comparable incident of attacks on individuals has occurred. has been reported. Though best known outside China for its terracotta warriors, Xi’an in western China is a hub of the country’s arms manufacturing industry and a center of nationalist sentiment.

A bar on one of the city’s largest avenues, several blocks from the city’s main crossroads, had a large nationalist sign on the front door a few years ago when anti-Japanese sentiment was running high. less common elsewhere in China. The sign said “No Japanese allowed”.

In contrast, Shenzhen is in the province of Guangdong, in the southeast of China. The province has been the largest market and the largest Japanese car manufacturing hub in China in recent years, and has been home to the factories of many Japanese companies, especially in the consumer goods sectors like electronics.

Some political commentators have suggested that the protests in Shenzhen also reflected discontent with the Chinese government, which allowed anti-Japanese protests while continuing to ban protests against its own policies.

Toyota and Nissan each held 5% of the Chinese market in the first eight months of this year, while Honda held 3%, according to LMC Automotive, a global consultancy firm. Volkswagen and General Motors each held nearly 15%, while Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia held just over 9%.


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