New car sales in Japan fell by a record last month (July), while their South Korean rivals extended their winning streak with strong global sales.
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Excluding small cars, domestic sales in Japan fell nearly 28% to about 241,000 vehicles after the March earthquake battered production.
Nissan fared better, posting a near 18% fall.
But Japanese carmakers are recovering faster than expected.
Honda surprised investors Monday by avoiding a quarterly loss and raising its annual profit guidance, while Nissan reported a smaller-than-expected decline in quarterly profit.
Meantime, South Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia extended their gains in July, taking advantage of Japan’s auto component shortage
Hyundai’s global sales climbed 10% last month, while Kia’s global sales rose 15%. Both posted forecast-beating profits for the April to June quarter last week.
Hyundai and Kia are expected to continue to enjoy robust sales and earnings in the second half, but they face growing competition from reviving Japanese rivals, and a strengthening won.
Sales for India’s top carmaker, Maruti Suzuki, slumped a record 25% in July, as production was crippled due to a shift in its manufacturing facility.
Surging interest rates and fuel prices are also affecting demand in the world’s second-fastest growing auto market. India’s central bank surprised investors by raising interest rates by 50 basis points last week, in a battle to fight high inflation.
Bottom line: New car sales in Japan fall by a record in July, while South Korean rivals extend their winning streak with strong global sales.