With major automakers announcing their Chinese sales for November, deliveries of Japanese automakers such as Toyota Motors (NYSE:TM) and Honda Motors (NYSE:HMC) were down as expected, but the rate of decline was less than what many had predicted. With no recent spark in tensions between China and Japan over disputed islands, the general public’s dislike for anything Japanese seems to be fading.
Toyota’s sales declined 22% to 63,800 vehicles which may not cheer up a lot of people. But compared to the previous months, when sales nosedived 49% in September and 44% in October, this is a significant improvement.  Similarly, Honda’s sales were down 29%. Sales in the preceding two months plummeted 41% and 54%, respectively. 
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Another stellar month for Ford Motors (NYSE:F). The automaker’s sales surged 56% to 67,505 units driven by the Focus compact car. It can be argued that the recent surge in Ford’s China sales might have come at the expense of Japanese automakers, but with the recent improvement in Japanese automakers’ sales, it looks more likely that Chinese consumers are buying Ford because they see value in its vehicles and not because they are looking for alternatives to Toyota or Honda cars. 
If Ford can sell on average more than 70,000 cars a month in China next year, something which looks very likely given the fact that it will introduce 15 new models in the next three years, the country alone will account for about 15% of its global sales. Besides, the more profitable Lincoln brand will be introduced by 2014, so you can expect China’s contribution to its total vehicles sold and profits only to rise from here.
Meanwhile, General Motors (NYSE:GM) continued its momentum in November as sales jumped 9.7% helped by the Buick and the Cadillac brands. GM has so far sold a total of 2.59 million vehicles in 2012 and is the highest selling automaker in the country.
To consolidate its position at the top, GM is spending another $1 billion to build a third plant in the world’s biggest auto market. The plant will be functional in 2015 and will help the automaker achieve its target of producing 2 million vehicles in China by 2015. At the same time, it will also be launching a new Cadillac model each year through 2016. Notes:
- Toyota China Sales Decline Slows as Anti-Japan Boycotts Fade, December 3, 2012, bloomberg.com [↩]
- Honda narrows drop in China sales, December 4, 2012, irishtimes.com [↩]
- Briefs: Focus leads Ford to record sales in China, December 6, 2012, detroitnews.com [↩]
- GM China November Sales Increase 9.7% on Buick, Chevrolet, December 6, 2012, bloomberg.com [↩]