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Four Japanese automakers all gain two-digit growth in Q1 China sales due to low base

For the first quarter of 2021, four major Japanese automakers—Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda—all scored double-digit growth in China sales mainly because of the low base for the year-ago period.

Toyota topped the other three automakers in the first quarter by selling 473,500 new vehicles. The championship was credited to its gain of the No.1 place for three consecutive months. In March, Toyota saw its China sales surged 63.7% year on year to 166,600 units.

Both joint ventures also announced robust growth in Q1 and March sales. FAW-Toyota said its Jan.-Mar. sales surged 77% to roughly 217,000 units, exceeding its Q1 sales target. The all-new RAV4, the Corolla and the Avalon still served as major sales contributors.

GAC Toyota's March deliveries leapt 44.2% over a year ago to 69,386 units, resulting in 207,686 units (+62.6%) in Q1 delivery volume, according to GAC Group's sales data.

For the Jan.-Mar. period, Honda delivered 390,231 new vehicles in the world's largest auto market, a year-over-year growth of 75.8%. GAC Honda scored a remarkable increase of 54.8% with 180,110 vehicles delivered. Dongfeng Honda handed over 210,121 vehicles to consumers, an upward movement of 98.9% from the previous year.

Honda's new vehicle deliveries in March zoomed up 150.2% year on year to 151,218 units, the highest-ever volume for the corresponding period.

To be specific, GAC Honda delivered 76,203 vehicles last month, posting a 136.6% hike over the year-ago period, while Dongfeng Honda saw its March deliveries soar 165.7% to 75,015 units.

There were six Honda-branded models, namely the Accord, the Vezel, the Breeze, the CR-V, the XR-V and the Civic, whose deliveries all exceeded 10,000 units in March. Notably, the volume of the CR-V topped 20,000 units.

In March, total of 21,662 consumers in China took delivery of Honda's vehicles armed with the hybrid powertrain system “Sport Hybrid”.

In March, Nissan sold 130,479 new vehicles in China, achieving a 78% leap from a year ago. Its Q1 sales also soared 70.6% to 352,352 units, around 120,000 units and 40,000 units fewer than those of Toyota and Honda. 

Dongfeng Nissan saw its sales zoom up 82.1% to 100,934 units in March. Notably, the sales of Nissan-branded vehicles amounted to 95,976 units, representing year-on-year growth for 12 straight months.

As for car models, the sales of the seventh-generation Altima, the Sylphy series and the Tiida reached 12,598 units, 44,209 units and 5,593 units last month, rising 186.1%, 75.6% and 33.5% over the year-ago period respectively. Dongfeng Nissan's SUV sales in March totaled 33,496 units, including 14,418 X-Trails (+139.6% YoY), 15,242 Qashqais (+141.1% YoY), 1,075 Muranos (+45.7% YoY) and 1,291 Terras (+76.1% YoY). Both the Sylphy and the Qashqai recorded their best-ever sales for the corresponding period.

From the data mentioned above, we can find out that Dongfeng Nissan accounted for 77% of Nissan's total China sales in March, eclipsing other subsidiaries like Zhengzhou Nissan. Of the vehicles sold by Dongfeng Nissan, 44% sales were contributed by the Sylphy series. The heavy reliance on a single joint venture and a single model might be an issue remaining to be solved by the Japanese automaker.

Compared to the first three carmakers, Mazda was largely upstaged with its Q1 China sales reaching only 49,909 units. In March, its two joint ventures, Changan Mazda and FAW Mazda, sold only 18,718 vehicles together.

According to a media report released in early April, FAW Group, Mazda and Changan Automobile were in talks with the attempt to make the business of FAW Mazda Motor Sales Co. Ltd. (FMSC) merge with that of Changan Mazda.