GM, Ford China Sales Rise as Consumers Shun Japanese Cars

GM China October Sales Rise as Consumers Shun Japanese Brands
A General Motors Co. (GM) Cadillac SLS automobile is displayed at a dealership in Beijing, China. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. reported gains in sales in the world’s largest auto market last month as Chinese consumers shunned Japanese brands amid a territorial dispute between the two countries.

Deliveries of GM’s cars and minivans in China climbed 14 percent to 251,812 units in October, the Detroit-based automaker said in a statement on its website today. Ford sold 60,518 vehicles last month in the country, or 48 percent more than a year earlier, according to an e-mailed statement.

American auto brands have benefited from the consumer backlash against Japanese carmakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. as tensions escalated in the past two months over a group of uninhabited islands at the center of a decades-long ownership dispute between Asia’s two largest economies.

“The influence on consumer mentality here could be long-lasting,” said Lin Huaibin, a Shanghai-based analyst at IHS Automotive. “This is bad news for the Japanese OEMs and very good news for the Germans and Americans.”

Toyota’s China sales plunged 44 percent last month, following a 49 percent drop in September. Both Honda and Nissan Motor Co. reported their worst monthly drops on record in October, based on available company figures stretching back to 2007 and 2008 respectively. The slowdown has persisted even after anti-Japan protests have subsided in China.

Buick, Chevrolet

In contrast, GM reported Buick sales increased 7.7 percent last month to 60,510 units, Chevrolet deliveries gained 8.3 percent to 54,660 and Cadillac rose 20 percent to 2,491. Wuling brand sales, which includes mini-commercial vehicles, climbed 17 percent to 118,788 units while the China-only Baojun marque sold more than 10,000 in a month for the first time, according to the company’s statement.

Ford said it sold 33,614 Focus compact cars in October. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company will introduce two new sport-utility vehicle models, the Kuga and the EcoSport, in China in the next few months, according to its statement.

GM, which plans to invest as much as $7 billion in the five years to 2015 in China, is banking on the world’s largest vehicle market to retain its global sales crown from Toyota.

Bob Socia, a former vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, took over as China chief on Oct. 1 from Kevin Wale, who retired.