Honda outselling Toyota in China, sets up photo finish for 2016

Fri Dec 2, 2016 7:19am EST
 
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By Jake Spring and Norihiko Shirouzu

BEIJING (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co's (7267.T: Quote) sales in China surpassed those of Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote) for the first 11 months of 2016 as new models lured consumers and set the Japanese rivals up for a photo finish in their rankings for full-year sales in the world's top auto market.

Chinese consumers have flocked to Honda's raft of new models, including a new version of the staple Civic sedan, as well as particularly strong offerings in the booming sport-utility vehicle (SUVs) segment.

To meet rising demand, Japan's No. 3 automaker plans to break ground on Dec. 8 on a factory in central China's Wuhan, according to a media invitation Honda has sent out.

Auto sales in China remain under pressure from slowing economic growth, with analysts predicting weak growth next year despite a rebound in 2016 thanks to tax incentives.

SUVs, though, have been a major exception, with the segment growing 45.6 percent year-to-date, as Chinese warm to larger cars.

A Beijing-based Toyota spokesman declined to comment on its sales performance vis-à-vis rivals.

"We don't have a blind focus on boosting sales," he said. "Our main objective in China is to achieve steady growth of our business, by focusing on customer satisfaction, including creating a quality sales and service environment."

Honda sold roughly 14,500 cars more than Toyota for January to November to surpass it for the first time this year, according to sales reports released by the two firms on Friday, potentially setting up the Tokyo-based company to narrowly overtake Toyota in full-year sales if the trend continues.   Continued...

 
A security agent guards Honda Avancier SUV after it was presented during Auto China 2016 auto show in Beijing, China April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo