by Li Fangfang
BEIJING, Oct. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- China's monthly automobile sales dropped year-on-year in September for the first time since February, as sales of Japanese vehicles saw a sharp decrease due to tensions over the Diaoyu Islands.
Total vehicle sales in the country, including passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles, decreased 1.8 percent over last year to 1.62 million units, though production increased 3.7 percent to 1.66 million units during the same period, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on Wednesday.
The commercial vehicle infutry registered sales of 301,800 units in September, down 7.6 percent from the same period last year.
Passenger vehicle sales dropped 0.3 percent year-on-year to 1.32 million units, the association said, attributing the lackluster market performance to the sales dive of Japanese brands.
In September, the combined sales of Japanese vehicles in China stood at 160,000 units, 29.49 percent lower than in August, and down 40.82 percent year-on-year, the association data showed.
"The Japanese automakers' sales decline will continue for a long time," said Dong Yang, general secretary of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers . "The Japanese government should build a peaceful relationship with neighboring countries to reach long-term economic development across Asia."
The tension with Japan boosted sales of cars from other countries.
German cars' sales were up 13.8 percent, South Korean brands saw a 9.4 percent increase, US brands rose 15.1 percent, and French brands increased 9.2 percent.
The Japanese brands' share of total passenger vehicles sales declined 6.46 percentage points to 12.16 percent, while China's homegrown brands took the opportunity to increase their market share by 6.29 percentage points to 42.72 percent in September.
Sales of Chinese passenger vehicles increased 26.55 percent from August to 561,900 units in September, up 7.51 percent year-on-year.
Shanghai GM, FAW-Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen are still the top three automakers measured by passenger vehicle sales. Japanese joint ventures were out of the top 10 list.
Toyota Motor Corp, Japan's biggest automaker by sales, reported the highest year-on-year decline since January 2008 as its sales dived 48.9 percent to 44,100 units in September.
Honda Motor Co also saw its lowest sales since May 2011 in September with 33,931 units, a 40.5 percent drop from a year earlier.
The US automakers General Motors and Ford Motor Co both reported record-high September sales, while the sales of South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp also reached an all-time high.
The consulting firm IHS Automotive estimates that the total production and sales of Japanese automakers in the domestic market will drop by 200,000 units this year.
(Source: China Daily)