Nissan Says China Stocks Rout May Affect Consumer Confidence

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Nissan Motor Co., the biggest Japanese carmaker by sales in China, said it’s monitoring the equities rout in the country because an abrupt plunge in the stock market may affect consumer confidence.

Chinese stocks have lost about $3.9 trillion in market value in less than a month despite various government measures including the suspension of initial public offerings and restrictions on bearish bets. Automakers are starting to feel the repercussions with passenger-vehicle sales declining last month for the first time in more than two years.

“If the rout is too abrupt, it leaves a negative impression on the economy, we will pay close attention to how it develops,” Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan’s chief competitive officer, told reporters in Japan on Thursday. The stock-market turmoil is “slowing the demand for luxury and premium cars.”

Retail deliveries of cars, multipurpose vehicles and sport-utility vehicles fell 3.2 percent in June from a year earlier to 1.43 million units, the China Passenger Car Association said Wednesday on its website. Industrywide sales last fell in February 2013, according to the group.

Even though auto sales are declining amid the stock market turmoil, China still has room to grow because of the number of first-time buyers, said Honda Motor Co. President Takhiro Hachigo. Honda plans to sell more cars this year in the country than last year, he said on Thursday.

Young Buyers

“During my stay in China, I saw many young people desire to own cars,” Hachigo told reporters in a separate briefing in Japan. “It may be slowing down but for sure it will grow.”

China’s stock-market rout has hit just as Japanese carmakers are cementing their comeback in China from anti-Japanese protests in 2012. Japanese car brands reached a combined market share of 20 percent as of May, matching levels seen before 2012, when political tensions escalated over a territorial dispute, according to researcher LMC Automotive.

Nissan also said Thursday that it will boost production of the Rogue crossover for export at its plant in Kyushu, Japan, as part of plans to boost domestic output to 1 million units this year.