Japanese companies see China sales recovery for 2013 image

Toyota and Honda reported record sales in China last year as they recovered from 2012, when a territorial dispute led to a backlash against Japanese brands in the world’s biggest auto market.

Toyota and its two local joint-venture partners sold more than 900,000 vehicles in China last year, beating its annual sales target. Toyota’s deliveries in China rose 9.2 % to 917,500 in 2013, while Tokyo-based Honda’s sales rose 26 % to 756,882 vehicles, the companies said in statements today.

Toyota executives said key new products, including the significantly redesigned RAV4 Toyota-branded compact sport-utility vehicle which was launched during the fourth quarter, helped recover much of the ground the company lost after a dispute over a group of islets in the East China Sea fanned anti-Japan sentiment in China. Toyota may increasingly count on China for growth as Japanese consumers face higher sales taxes from April and a slowdown in emerging markets may persist through the year.

While sales momentum by Toyota and other Japanese automakers, recovered to pre-crisis levels toward the last two months of 2013, they aren’t without fresh worries.

Among them is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit last month to the Yasukuni Shrine seen by critics as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression, which infuriated China and South Korea and prompted concern from the United States about deteriorating ties between the North Asian neighbors.

Via Reuters, Bloomberg