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Japanese autos in the Chinese passenger automobile market in May

Following the Diaoyu Island incident a few years ago, sales of Japanese branded automobiles fell severely in China. Only recently have Japanese automobile sales begun to bounce back. According to statistics from (Chinese), a total of 289,900 Japanese branded automobiles were sold in May, representing positive year-on-year growth of 15.1%. Japanese brands currently control a 19.1% stake in the Chinese passenger automobiles market. While that figure is still far less than the over 20% rates recorded before the Diaoyu Island news, it is still a major improvement from the 17.2% rate from 2014. By comparison, sales of German, US and Korean brand automobiles all fell over 9%, with their respective market shares also decreasing.

Two of the big three Japanese manufacturers, Toyota and Honda, reported positive year-on-year growth rates in May. Toyota’s sales increased 32.3% from 69,949 units sold from last May to 92,520 units sold this May. Meanwhile, sales of Hondas grew 41.9%, increasing from 58,494 units last year to 83,016 units this year.

A major factor behind Japanese brands’ resurgence was the introduction of popular new models. Toyota benefited greatly from the Corolla and the Levin. Monthly sales of the former which totaled 22,965 units to become Toyota’s best-selling model for the month. By comparison, only 226 Corollas were sold in the country last May. FAW Toyota introduced the next generation Corolla last year. By setting a new standard for after sales service and employing a variety of innovative marketing tactics, the Corolla was successful in opening up new markets. The Levin’s sales totaled 11,016 units in May.

Fellow Japanese manufacturer Honda’s most successful models for the month of May were the New Fit, Crider, XR-V and Odyssey. The New Fit performed especially well, with a total of 10,806 units, very close to the sales level of the VW Polo. Sales of the Crider and XR-V totaled 9,569 units and 8,606 units, respectively. Sales of the Odyssey were also very strong, with sales this month totaling 3,283 units, far above the mere 534 units sold last May.

By comparison, Nissan’s performance suffered due to a lack of new models. Nissan’s sales for May were 72,578 units, representing negative year-on-year growth of 5.6%. Monthly sales of Nissan’s best-selling model and the best-selling Japanese passenger automobile overall, the Bluebird Sylphy, totaled 27,685 units.

Mazda’s performance this May was also very respectable, with its sales growing 16.8%. Mazda’s success was due to the release of several new models launched this year, such as the Mazda3 Axela, Atenza and CX-5, as well as the introduction of new technologies like SkyActiv.

The Nissan Bluebird Sylphy was the best-selling Japanese passenger automobile in China in May 2015. It was followed by the Corolla, X-Trail, Vios, Crider, CR-V, Accord, New Teana, Levin and New Fit.