Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp is the world’s largest automaker, but its underlying strength actually resides in its US auto market figures, not sales made in the biggest single auto market on the planet – China.
The local sales of Toyota automobiles, with the Japanese having two joint ventures, plummeted by 20.9 percent last month, taking the first quarter total down 0.1 percent. The company proved surprised when it announced the results for last month, as the Japanese automaker had steadily recuperated from the low level seen just a few years ago when political tensions between Beijing and Tokyo rekindled a flash of anti-Japanese consumer sentiment. According to a Beijing-based Toyota spokesperson, the recently refreshed Corolla and Levin models were top sellers last month, but the March results were especially disappointing for the RAV4 crossover SUV and the Vios compact car. The representative said the massive year-over-year fall was mainly due to increased competition for the latter two models in China – rivaling dealers discounted competitive models such as the Honda CR-V crossover.
The automaker and its two Chinese joint venture delivered around 71,500 units last month in China, with the overall sales level for the first three months of the year surging to around 227,700 autos. Toyota’s threshold goal for the year in the world’s largest auto market has been set at 1.1 million vehicles – a 6.8 percent increase from the year-ago figure. The biggest carmaker in the world in 2014 delivered around 1.03 million autos in China, up from 2013 level by 12.5 percent – though way below the sales goal set for the year, which was the same one as in 2015.