Toyota’s sales in China increased 0.3% to 79,000 units in May.
Toyota and its joint ventures in China with FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile Group sold 79,000 vehicles in the region last month, up 0.3%, compared with a drop of 6.5% in April. The Japanese automaker plans to sell 900,000 vehicles in China by the end of this year, an increase of 7.1% compared with 2012.
Toyota said that sales in China will not fully recover before this autumn, as the tensions between the two nations still linger. In 2012 Toyota’s sales in China dropped 4.9% to 840,500 units, the automaker’s first annual drop since 2002. By 2014 the Japanese automaker plans to make China its third million-unit market, after the US and Japan.
“Our original expectation was for sales to come back in half a year, but now our plan is to push harder after our new product introductions in the fall,” said Hiroji Onishi, Toyota’s China head. “We’ll be focusing more on inland areas and also the younger generation.”
Takanori Yokoi, Toyota spokesman, said the automaker has begun negotiations with Hunan Corun New Energy to jointly manufacture nickel-metal hydride batteries for hybrid vehicles, which Toyota plans to begin selling in China in 2015. Toyota also plans to develop key components for hybrids in China, to make hybrid vehicles cheaper.