Japanese Car Makers Take Top Spot In China

Boom attributed to energy saving vehicles and high performance standards.

Fresh from a successful year in North America, Japanese automakers also took over the number one spot in China's booming car market in 2006, state press said Jan. 31. Japanese automakers sold 983,600 sedans in China last year taking a 25.7% market share, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Chinese automakers also enjoyed over a quarter share of the domestic market, followed by European brands with a 24.4% share, the association said.

As late as 2001, Japanese manufacturers maintained only a 15% share of China's market, when European automakers hogged 53.8%, the report said. But rather than wait for sales of old models to slump like European rivals, Japanese carmakers have ushered in new models to keep up with changing market demands.

Honda introduced its popular Accord into the China market to fill a gap for a high-end private car, while Toyota produced the Camry in southern Guangdong province and sold it here for about $12,000 less than in global markets.

"The booming sales of Japanese brands are also attributed to their positive image associated with energy savings and high performance," the report quoted analysts at the China Automotive Technology and Research Center, as saying. "Japanese brands have gained market share by tuning in to the needs and aesthetic preferences of Chinese buyers," the analysts said.

Japanese carmakers are latecomers to manufacturing in China, the world's second largest car market after the U.S. Over 3.8 million sedans were sold in China last year, the report said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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