Toyota's new Auris. The company saw its sales in China for August drop 15% year on year. (File photo/Xinhua)
Tensions between China and Japan over the disputed Diaoyutai (Diaoyu or Senkaku) islands in the East China Sea has had an effect on the sales of Japanese car brands in China.
The Japanese government on Sept. 10 signed an agreement to purchase three of the disputed islands, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan, from their private owner in order to nationalize them.
Cui Dongshu, deputy secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, said that though the total sales of Japanese car brands will not be affected severely, sales in some cities will suffer because of the anti-Japanese sentiment aroused by the dispute.
Dong Yang, secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said that sales growth of Japanese car brands in August was lower than for other brands. The incident has obviously affected sales, Dong said.
Shiga Toshiyuki, chief operational officer of Japanese automaker Nissan, said that the falling sales figures for August were affected by being unable to launch large-scale advertising campaigns, especially for outdoor campaigns.
Mazda's sales in China for August dropped 6% from a year earlier while Toyota suffered a drop of 15.1% in sales year on year. However, executives at Dongfeng Nissan, a joint venture between Chinese carmaker Dongfeng and Nissan, said sales have not been affected, according to Shanghai's Oriental Morning Post.
The total sales of Japanese car brands for August in China grew by 4.5%, compared to 12.7%, 14.7%, 15.9% and 11.7% growth for German, US, Korean and French car brands respectively, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Japanese brands have a sales advantage in the country's southern areas such as Guangdong province but policies to limit car sales to tackle congestion in major cities like Guangzhou plus the ill feeling engendered by the sovereignty dispute has hindered the sales of Japanese brands, said Cui.
Cui also reminded buyers that cars imported from Japan only account for 6%-7% of the vehicles made by Japanese brands in China. If anti-Japanese protests continue, Chinese carmakers who partner with Japanese marques manufacturing in China will suffer as well, said Cui.