Toyota, Ford Lead China Auto Sales Increase After Tax Cut

  • Toyota leads Japanese carmakers in China with 28% sales gain
  • Chinese brands including Great Wall cut prices to move stock

China’s passenger-vehicle sales rose 6.8 percent in the first quarter, led by Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co., as consumers took advantage of a government tax cut and discounts from manufacturers.

Deliveries climbed to 5.64 million units in the January to March period, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association. Sales rose 7.8 percent to 1.92 million last month.

The first quarter pace puts China’s auto industry on track to exceed the 6 percent growth forecast by the separate state-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Deliveries rose at the slowest pace since 2012 last year and would have fared worse without the government cutting the sales tax on smaller-engine vehicles by half in October, which boosted demand in the fourth quarter.

The levy cut benefited carmakers including Toyota, whose Corolla and Vios helped it lead major Japanese carmakers in sales growth in the first quarter.

Toyota boosted deliveries by 28 percent to 291,000 units, putting it within 8,000 units of Nissan Motor Co., which saw sales remain almost unchanged at 298,600 in the same period, as demand slumped for its commercial vehicles. Honda sales rose 11 percent to 261,731 units, helped by demand for the Vezel and XR-V crossovers.

Ford Motor Co. and its joint ventures delivered 14 percent more vehicles in China in the first quarter, totaling 314,454 vehicles, compared with General Motor Co.’s 0.2 percent gain to 963,652 units. 

Chinese carmakers including Great Wall Motor Co. and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. cut sticker prices for entry-level sport utility vehicles, as competition intensified in the segment, according to Sanford C. Bernstein. The move may trigger similar measure by other domestic brands, according to Robin Zhu, an analyst at Bernstein.

Great Wall, the biggest SUV maker in China, sold 5.7 percent more vehicles in January to March, recording a total of 233,426 units.

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