The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) expects vehicle sales in the country to rise 7 percent in 2013, marking the third consecutive year of single-digit growth. Sales in China, considered as the biggest vehicle market in the world, jumped 4.3 percent in 2012, compared to 2.5 percent in 2011.
However, growth figures were still below the double-digit growth posted by carmakers in China in 2009 and 2010, due to a slowing economy and rising fuel costs that heavily affected demand. Toyota Motor Corp and other Japanese carmakers saw their sales in China drop by half following a territorial dispute between the country and Japan that sparked boycotts of Japan-made goods in mid-September 2012. The decline in sales has already slowed down, but most industry analysts expect Japanese carmakers to lose some of their market share to foreign rivals in 2013.
Sheng Ye, an analyst at industry consultancy Ipsos, quipped that Japanese vehicles like Camry, Accord or Infiniti models have again become an option in China, but noted that a full recovery would be very difficult as long as the island dispute remains unresolved. He said that this will affect the overall car sales to some extent, although Korean, German and US brands have “picked up some of the slack."
Dong Yang, CAAM’s secretary general, is optimistic that Japanese brands would have a full recovery in 2013. He quipped that whether the recovery will be for the short-term or long-term depends on the Japanese government. Shi Jianhua, CAAM's deputy secretary general, said that while total vehicle sales may jump 7 percent in 2013, passenger car sales may surge 8.5 percent.