Toyota China sales tumble 49%
Toyota's China sales fell the most since at least 2008 and Honda sold the fewest in more than a year after consumers shunned Japanese cars amid a territorial dispute between Asia's two largest economies.
Wholesale deliveries at Toyota dropped 49 per cent to 44,100 vehicles in September, while Honda's sales fell 41 per cent to 33,931 units, the companies said today.
For Toyota, the drop was the biggest since at least January 2008 and for Honda, it was the company's lowest sales since May 2011.
The results help illustrate the rising financial toll on Japanese automakers, who are facing their third crisis since 2011 after the Japanese government's decision to purchase a group of islands claimed by both countries triggered violent protests last month.
China's Passenger Car Association predicts Japanese auto brands will lose their collective market-share lead in the country this year for the first time since 2005.
"People are afraid of buying Japanese cars," said Satoshi Yuzaki, Tokyo-based general manager at Takagi Securities.
"If the situation doesn't settle and if Japanese carmakers can't quantify the impact soon, there will be a lasting effect on their earnings."
Honda fell 2.5 per cent, the most since September 28, to close at 2,361 yen in Tokyo. Toyota dropped 1.5 per cent to 3,000 yen.
By comparison, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 1.1 per cent.
Nissan, which has the highest market share in China among Japanese carmakers, is also scheduled to report its sales figures today. The stock declined 1.9 per cent.
Mazda reported October 4 that deliveries in the country tumbled 35 per cent to the lowest in 19 months, while Mitsubishi said a day later that Chinese sales plunged 63 per cent. Suzuki said today its sales fell 43 per cent.
Automakers from Japan, which as a group have a higher share of China's market than any other country, are bracing for what may become a bigger crisis in China than last year's tsunami in Japan, according to the car association.
The territorial dispute may cause the Japanese economy to contract this quarter and hasten a current account slide as exports decline and Chinese tourism to Japan drops off, according to JPMorgan Chase.