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Toyota's China sales still head downhill

South China Morning Post - Japanese carmaker Toyota said sales continued to fall at a double-digit rate in China last month, but its mainland partner expected a turnaround as new car models hit the market this year.

Toyota and partner Guangzhou Automobile Corp (GAC) will showcase their first co-developed local electric car at this month's Auto Shanghai show. The e-car is understood to be just one of eight models Toyota will launch this year.

Toyota said it sold 75,900 cars in mainland China last month - a year-on-year drop of 11.7 per cent. That was the sixth consecutive monthly drop if January and February figures are read together to avoid skewing due to the shifting dates of the Lunar New Year.

Other Japanese carmakers, including Honda, Nissan and Mazda, suffered similar sales drops during the period after a territorial dispute between Japan and China prompted a nationwide boycott of Japanese goods last year.

GAC, which makes cars on the mainland with Toyota and Honda, saw net profit fall 73.46 per cent to 1.13 billion yuan (HK$1.39 billion) last year.

Toyota aims to make up market losses by accelerating product launches this year. GAC-Toyota deputy general manager Feng Xingya said one strategy was to enter the electric car sector, an area untapped by Toyota, a maker of specialist hybrid cars.

Nissan and Honda are just as keen to get sales back on track. Up to 16,000 orders have been placed for Nissan's new Teana model since its launch on March 18, according to its mainland partner Dongfeng Motor. Nissan, whose forte is electric cars, will also launch its new hybrid concept car model Friend-me at the Shanghai show.

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