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Japanese automakers recovering rapidly in China

  • November 9, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 5:29 p.m.
  • English Press
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Tokyo, Nov. 9 (Jiji Press)–Japanese automakers are enjoying rapid production recovery in China from spring, when the spread of the novel coronavirus started to wane there.

 

Toyota Motor Corp. <7203>, Nissan Motor Co. <7201> and Honda Motor Co. <7267> have reported strong sales and output there.

 

But some industry watchers warn that an excessive reliance on China is risky amid the U.S.-China trade row.

 

The three automakers‘ output has staged a V-shaped recovery since slumping by at least 80 pct from the year-before levels in February following the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

In September, Toyota and Honda saw production in China grow by 1.5-fold and 1.3-fold from a year before, respectively, while Nissan recovered to around its year-before level.

 

In 2019, China was the world’s largest market for new automobiles, where sales totaled 25.77 million units. Demand remains strong, buoyed by growth in consumers’ purchasing power.

 

Popular brands in China include Nissan’s Sylphy and Toyota’s Corolla.

 

The Japanese automakers hope that the strength in China will lead their recovery from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Nissan, which lags behind its two Japanese rivals in China, has set an ambitious target of raising its annual sales in China by over one million units by 2022 from 1.5 million units at present.

 

It also plans to build new manufacturing lines in a plant in the inland city of Wuhan and another in Changzhou near Shanghai, as well as launching new models.

 

Meanwhile, some analysts, including Seiji Sugiura of Tokai Tokyo Research Institute Co., warn about risks associated with the Chinese market.

 

“Japanese automobiles are popular in China, even in the used vehicle market,” Sugiura said. “But political risks, such as an outbreak of anti-Japanese demonstrations, cannot be ignored.”

 

Japanese automakers may receive “an unexpected backlash” depending on the course of U.S. trade talks with China if they become overly reliant on the Chinese market, he said.

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