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Toyota sales in China up 4% in 2011

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Toyota Motor Corp, Asia’s largest automaker, said its vehicle sales in the Chinese mainland slowed last year after natural disasters in Asia disrupted production and the removal of tax breaks dented demand.

The Japan-based company said on Thursday that it sold 883,000 vehicles in the Chinese mainland last year, 4 percent more than the 846,000 units delivered a year earlier. The automaker is targeting sales to exceed 1 million units this year, it said.

The market’s overall vehicle sales slowed last year from a record 32 percent increase in 2010 as inflation, higher interest rates and the end of two-year-long incentives for car purchases deterred consumers. Production at Toyota’s assembly plants in the Chinese mainland fell to as low as 30 percent of normal following the earthquake in Japan in March.

“Toyota’s growth in the Chinese market was undermined by the earthquake but also as a result of its conservative strategy,” Harry Chen, an analyst with Guotai Junan Securities Co in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, said before the company’s announcement. “They have been adding new models at a slower pace than the rivals and if they don’t become more aggressive, they will lose more market share.”

Toyota, which has joint ventures with China FAW Group Corp and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co, began producing its third-generation Prius hybrid last month in China for sale early this year. The automaker introduced three new models last year, according to the company.

Toyota had 5.92 percent of China’s passenger car market, compared with General Motors Co’s (GM) 17.9 percent, according to calculations based on January-to-November data from the industry group. GM, the biggest foreign automaker in China, expanded its sales in the country by 8.2 percent to 2.35 million units in the first 11 months of last year.

Last month, Toyota said its global vehicle sales may rise the most in at least 12 years in 2012. Sales fell an estimated 6 percent last year because of disruptions caused by a record earthquake in Japan and Thailand’s worst floods in almost 70 years.

The carmaker may boost global deliveries by 20 percent to 8.48 million vehicles this year from an estimated 7.05 million last year, it said in a Dec 22 statement. The forecast excludes Toyota’s Hino Motors Ltd and Daihatsu Motor Co units.

Via: ChinaDaily.

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