China sales by Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. and its two local joint venture partners grew 51.3% in February to about 66,800 vehicles, according to a company spokesman.
For the first two months of this year, Toyota sold a total of about 125,500 vehicles, up 1.5% from a year earlier, said the spokesman, Takanori Yokoi.
The volume surge in February follows a slow sales month in January thanks to China’s Lunar New Year holiday, which this year fell toward the end of January. In China, car sales usually slow to a crawl during the holiday. Last year, the new-year holiday was in February.
“That basically explains most of the big sales increase we saw last month,” Mr. Yokoi said. In January this year, Toyota sold about 58,700 vehicles, down 26.2% from a year earlier. “Overall, sales were slightly stronger during the first two months of this year compared with last year,” he said.
Toyota’s China sales last year totaled about 883,400 vehicles, a 4.4% increase from 2010, reflecting in part the general slowdown of automobile sales in China last year.
After rapid growth in 2009 and 2010, China’s auto market as a whole slowed considerably last year as sales of smaller-engine cars and commercial vehicles stalled after the government ended some incentives for car buyers.