Sales of Toyota cars and its two Chinese joint ventures – China FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile – fell 20.9 per cent in March, while those for the first three months of the year slipped 0.1 per cent.
The results amounted to what a company spokesman called a surprisingly weak showing by Toyota in the world’s biggest vehicle market.
Takanori Yokoi, a Beijing-based Toyota spokesman, said the newly redesigned Corolla and Levin models sold well during March, but sales of both the RAV4 crossover Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) and the Vios compact car were particularly disappointing.
Yokoi blamed the big year-on-year slide in March sales mostly on the fierce competition those two car models faced in China.
He cited, for example, dealers discounting competitive cars such as the Honda
CR-V crossover SUV, creating competition for the Toyota RAV4 and eating into its sales.
Toyota and its Chinese joint ventures sold about 71,500 vehicles in China in March. Its volume during the January-March quarter totalled about 227,700 vehicles. Toyota aims to sell 1.1m vehicles in China in 2015, after failing to clear that sales level and meet last year’s target. That means its expected pace of growth in China would almost halve this year, to 6.8 per cent.
Japan’s top carmaker sold about 1.03m vehicles in China last year, up 12.5 per cent from 2013.
Yokoi said the company was still on track to achieve its China sales objective for 2015.