For the first time since January, year-over-year car sales in China have fallen. Total vehicle sales in China decreased 1.8% to 1.62 million in September from a year earlier, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).Sales growth in China has been decelerating from 15.8% in June to 3.7% in August, before posting negative growth over the past month.
The CAAM points to territorial issues with Japan. Sometimes violent anti-Japanese sentiments in China have kept consumer from buying Japanese cars. Toyota saw year-over-year sales down 48.9% compared to September 2011, while Honda’s sales fell 40.5%. Early Wednesday, the stock prices of these Japanese carmakers, as well as Nikkei and Nissan, dropped in response to this news.
Many Japanese vehicles are produced in China with Chinese parts, and reports indicate that Japanese car manufacturers are set to reduce production by 50%. Japanese car manufacturers are likely to recover but are not expected to fully regain the market share enjoyed in the past.
General Motors and Ford, on the other hand, set sales records in September, selling 244,266 and 59,570 cars in China, respectively. For GM, this represents a 1.7% increase in sales over the previous year, while Ford’s sales rose by 35%.
Other foreign car manufacturers picked up most of the slack. BMW’s Chinese sales rose 55% over the past year, while Audi’s sales grew over 20%.
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