Manufacturing News

Nissan outsells Honda, Toyota in first 10 months

Nissan Motor Co.'s sales in China rose nearly 11 percent year on year to 1.17 million vehicles in the first 10 months, edging the company ahead of Honda as the top-selling Japanese automaker in China.

For the period, Honda Motor Co.’s deliveries rose 17 percent year on year to 1.16 million vehicles, while Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales increased 8.5 percent to 1.07 million.

Analysts believe Toyota’s relative weakness in China is because of its lack of small crossover models -- a hot segment that Honda has exploited.

Honda’s sales grew rapidly after it introduced two subcompact crossover models, the XR-V and Vezel, in 2014.

Though sales growth of the two models eventually eased, Honda got a fresh boost from the redesigned Civic sedan, which hit China in April 2016.

But Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai consultancy Automotive Foresight, is not pessimistic about Toyota’s sales outlook.

“Toyota’s compact sedans, especially [gasoline-electric] hybrid versions of the Corolla and the Levin, are doing well,” Zhang said. “That would give Toyota moderate growth in 2017 and next year, but the issue is the lack of presence” in one of China’s hottest vehicle segments, he said.

If Toyota had subcompact crossovers like Honda’s Vezel and XR-V, “the company could generate an extra volume of 150,000 units a year … ” Zhang said.

Toyota could get a lift next summer, when the subcompact Toyota CH-R crossover likely will hit China, company executives said.

Toyota downplayed its sales race with Honda in China. “We would like to continue to grow steadily in the Chinese market,” a Beijing-based spokesman said.

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