China, the world’s largest auto market, has been posting slowing auto sales throughout the year, prompting apocalyptic scenarios of carmakers losing their massive profits that came with almost no effort on their behalf.
But top automotive executives have now turned a page and see the Chinese market mostly going through a more normal process of stabilization following years of double digit growth that turned the country into the biggest global auto market ahead of the United States. For example, Nissan’s chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn commented Wednesday he did not see any clouds over the longer-term potential of the Chinese economy. “I think this is a temporary slowdown,” said the manager, also the CEO of French partner Renault and head of the alliance. “The economy in China has been growing so fast, from time to time it needs a period to retune. That’s what’s taking place today,” he added in an interview on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show.
Another major automotive executive head – Volkswagen AG’s chief of the namesake brand – Herbert Diess – corroborated the view in saying he did not believe demand for vehicles in China had reached its peak. “The market in China has probably shifted from the big, major cities to smaller areas where there is more demand for mobility and cars,” he commented also on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show. Chinese auto sales soared for the first time in half a year back in September, with the year-to-date growth rate at a meager 0.3 percent, the slowest in years.