Mazda Motor Corp.’s deliveries in China tumbled to the lowest in 19 months as anti-Japan protests flared in the world’s largest vehicle market, fueling concern larger automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. will follow suit.
Mazda reported yesterday China deliveries dropped 35 percent last month to 13,258 vehicles, meaning the company didn’t even match its sales during the aftermath of last year’s tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. today said Chinese sales plunged 63 percent.
The September figures, the first reported among Japanese automakers, may foreshadow the extent of the demand slump Toyota, Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. will report in China later this month. Officials at the companies said last week their businesses would deteriorate in September as anti-Japan protests over disputed islets escalated, with some demonstrators torching auto showrooms and smashing cars.
“Without any signs of when the China-Japan relationship may be restored, it looks like the companies may need to continue reducing output for the time being,” Mitsushige Akino, who oversees the equivalent of about $600 million in assets at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. in Tokyo, said today. “Japanese carmakers, especially those who have a higher dependency on China like Nissan and Mazda, may need to revise their sales outlook for this year.”
Mitsubishi’s sales in the country declined to 2,315 units, the lowest total since at least April 2011, when the company changed the way it counts China deliveries, spokesman Kai Inada said today.
Toyota’s China September sales fell 50 percent from August, the Yomiuri newspaper reported today. Naoto Fuse, a Toyota spokesman, said the company is not the source of the report and that the company will continue to adjust production based on demand.
Mazda fell 1.1 percent to close at 92 yen in Tokyo. Nissan dropped 1.5 percent, Toyota declined 1.6 percent and Honda slid 0.5 percent. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 0.4 percent.
Mazda’s sales in China have been declining in the past few months because of increased market competition, spokeswoman Michiko Terashima said. It’s unclear how much the protests contributed to the drop in September deliveries, Terashima said.
Noriaki Yamada, chief of Mazda’s China operations, didn’t comment on the reasons for the sales decline, unlike previous monthly statements. Sales in the January-to-September period declined 6 percent to 148,116, according to the statement.
Nissan, which has the highest market share in China among Japanese carmakers, has said it will resume output Oct. 8. The anti-Japanese sentiment will hit September sales, Executive Vice President Takao Katagiri said today in Tokyo. For the exception of one dealership, all of Nissan’s showrooms re-opened before this week’s holidays in China, Katagiri said.
Honda will restart manufacturing in the country next week as planned, said Akemi Ando, a company spokeswoman.
Koichi Sugimoto, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at BNP Paribas SA cut Nissan’s stock rating to hold from buy on Oct. 1 on concerns about “a prolonged sales slump in China,” joining the growing number of analysts lowering their estimates on Japanese auto companies.