Toyota said that sales in China will not fully recover before this autumn, as the tensions between the two nations still linger.
“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,” Hiroji Onishi, Toyota’s China head, told reporters in Shanghai yesterday. “We’ll be focusing more on inland areas and also the younger generation.”
Toyota brought at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show 52 models, among which two China-specific world premieres as the automaker plans to make up for the annual sales decline in the region. The two models are the FT-HT Yuejia, which is a six-seater aimed to the young customers and the Yundong Shuangqing II, which a hybrid concept developed in Changshu, China.
“It’s important for Japanese carmakers to develop China- specific cars, or use more local designers to better tailor their cars to local taste,” said Lin Huaibin, a Shanghai-based analyst with IHS Automotive. “Japanese carmakers have traditionally put less emphasis on China, and that’s at the core of why their market share has declined.”
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. Toyota said that this year it expects sales in China to increase 7% to 900,000 units, as the anti-Japan sentiment will slowly fade away.