Japanese Carmakers Increase China Production as Tensions Fade

Japan’s three biggest automakers boosted output in China in April, the first monthly increase not accounted for by holidays since a territorial dispute last year caused a consumer backlash against Japanese cars.

Nissan Motor Co., the largest Japanese carmaker in China by volume, said production in the country rose 7.1 percent from a year earlier to 106,797 units last month. Toyota Motor Corp. said output rose 8.7 percent, while Honda Motor Co. posted a 5.9 percent jump.

Japanese automakers are also introducing new models in the country, another sign they expect to recoup market share lost to Korean and German carmakers amid boycotts following a territorial dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea. Output had also gained in January because the Lunar New Year fell in that month in the previous year.

“The companies will be rolling out new models, and with the anti-Japan sentiment gradually easing, I think you can expect the recovery to continue in the coming months,” Issei Takahashi, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at Credit Suisse AG said. “Still, when you compare their sales level to the industry’s growth or to their original plans, they are still only part-way in their recovery.”

Nissan in April said it targets a 16 percent increase in sales at its China joint venture this year.

Toyota’s China chief Hiroji Onishi last month said the company doesn’t expect sales to fully recover before the country’s autumn this year.

Nissan’s April China sales rose 3.2 percent to 103,300 units, helped by the new Teana and Sylphy sedans. Toyota fell 6.5 percent to 76,000 and Honda fell 2.4 percent to 60,605 units, both narrowing the decline from March.

Last year, China sales fell 4.9 percent at Toyota, 5.3 percent for Nissan and and 5 percent for Honda.

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