Under the fierce attack on the new energy vehicle market, the share of independent brands has soared to more than 50%.

On the other hand, the share of mainstream joint venture brands has shrunk, and the once-famous Japanese brands are even more difficult to deal with.

Recently, data from the Passenger Car Market Information Association (hereinafter referred to as the "Passenger Car Market Information Association") showed that the share of Japanese brands fell to 17% last year, the lowest level in three years.

While the overall share is shrinking, the sales of Japanese brands in China will decline collectively in 2023.

As domestic electric vehicles enter a period of rapid growth, leading new energy brands such as BYD and Tesla are accelerating to seize market share.

Currently, Japanese brands, which are in a weak position in the new energy vehicle market, are under siege, and self-branded extended-range models and hybrid models are also competing for the sales of joint venture brands in the fuel market. There is not much time left for Japanese joint venture brands in the Chinese market.

  Collective decline in sales

  The market share of Japanese brands in China is shrinking again.

  The "In-depth Analysis Report on the National Passenger Car Market in December 2023" released by the Passenger Car Association shows that the retail share of German brands in 2023 will be 20.4%, a year-on-year decrease of 0.6 percentage points; the retail share of American brands will be 7.9%, a year-on-year decrease. 0.6 percentage points; the retail share of Korean brands was 1.5%, down 0.2 percentage points year-on-year; the retail share of Japanese brands was 17%, down 3 percentage points year-on-year, and became the sector with the largest decline.

Judging from the data, the market share of Japanese brands in China has declined for three consecutive years. In 2020, the retail share of Japanese brands was 24.1%, in 2021 it was 22.6%, and in 2022 it was 20%.

  Behind the shrinking share of Japanese brands is the collective decline in sales of major brands, with Nissan's decline being the most obvious.

Data show that Toyota sales in China in 2023 will be 1.9076 million vehicles, a year-on-year decrease of 1.7%; Nissan sales in China will be 793,800 vehicles, a year-on-year decrease of 24%; Honda sales in China will be 1.2342 million vehicles, a year-on-year decrease of 10.1%.

Throughout 2023, "Toyota + Nissan" has not been defeated by BYD.

  Judging from the data released by major automobile groups, only FAW Toyota among the Japanese joint venture brands showed a slight increase.

Data shows that FAW Toyota sales will be 800,000 vehicles in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 4.1%; GAC Toyota sales will be 950,000 vehicles, a year-on-year decrease of 5.47%; GAC Honda sales will be 640,500 vehicles, a year-on-year decrease of 13.66%; Dongfeng Honda sales will be 604,800 vehicles, down 8.54% year-on-year; Dongfeng Nissan (including Dongfeng Infiniti, Venucia) sales were 723,100 units, down 21.53% year-on-year.

  In addition to the sluggish sales of the three major Japanese brands, Toyota, Honda and Nissan, in China, there are also Japanese brands lingering on the edge of the market.

Data show that Changan Mazda sales in 2023 will be 88,700 vehicles, a year-on-year decrease of 14.77%.

In addition, due to low sales, GAC Mitsubishi's factories in China will cease production in 2023. In October last year, GAC Group issued an announcement showing that the board of directors reviewed and approved the "Related Transaction Announcement on the Reorganization of GAC Mitsubishi" and planned to impose restrictions on GAC Mitsubishi, GAC Mitsubishi Automobile Sales Co., Ltd. has implemented equity adjustments and other restructuring matters. After the restructuring is completed, GAC Mitsubishi will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of GAC Group.

The Mitsubishi Motors brand has also withdrawn from the Chinese market.

  Japanese brands “find their way” in China

  Japanese brands have fallen behind, and Japanese models that were once best-selling have gradually lost their halo.

  Data show that in December 2023, there were 30 models with wholesale passenger car sales exceeding 20,000 units.

Among them, the top three are BYD Song, Tesla Model Y, and Hongguang MINI. Dongfeng Nissan Sylphy, which used to be the best-selling A-class sedan, ranks 10th, GAC Toyota Camry ranks 18th, and Dongfeng Honda CR-V Ranked 21st, while popular Japanese models such as the GAC Honda Accord, Dongfeng Nissan Teana, X-Trail, etc. are not on the list.

According to Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the Passenger Car Association, the decline in sales of Japanese brands is related to the development trend of the automobile market. The domestic market share of fuel vehicles is facing a sharp shrinkage, and independent brands rely on new energy vehicles to quickly seize market share.

  Not only have their sales been overtaken by a number of new energy models, but also from the perspective of models, the high-selling models of Japanese brands are still concentrated in "old" best-selling models.

  Faced with market pressure, Japanese brands have also begun to take action on prices.

In January this year, Guangqi Honda announced the "2024 New Year Car Entry Benefits" and mentioned that the limited-time subsidy is up to 18,000 yuan, and the replacement subsidy is up to 10,000 yuan.

In addition, when a Beijing Business Daily reporter visited the auto market, he learned that models under Japanese brands have terminal promotions to varying degrees.

"The highest comprehensive discount on Teana's price can reach 40,000 yuan." A Dongfeng Nissan salesperson said that the discounts on current models are relatively large, so it is appropriate to order a car in the store.

  Although their performance in the Chinese market is poor, the global performance of the three major Japanese brands is still outstanding.

In the third quarter of 2023, Toyota's net profit was 1.28 trillion yen, a year-on-year increase of 194.24%; Honda's net profit was 253.2 billion yen, a year-on-year increase of 34%; Nissan's net profit was 190.7 billion yen, a year-on-year increase of 173.3%.

  "From a global market perspective, Japanese brands still have good results, but the global market is at a crossroads of transformation. At the same time, the Chinese market has brought huge incremental opportunities to Japanese and other foreign car companies, and it is still an important market for Japanese brands." China. Yan Jinghui, a member of the Expert Committee of the Automobile Dealers Association, believes that in the transformation of automobile consumption towards pure electric and intelligent vehicles, the rapid rise of Chinese automobile companies has changed the domestic automobile market structure.

For foreign car companies, it is urgent to speed up localization changes.

  In fact, in the face of market transformation and the rise of independent brands, Japanese brands have realized the importance of accelerating transformation.

In 2023, engineers from the R&D centers of Toyota's three joint ventures in China (FAW Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., GAC Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., and BYD Toyota Electric Vehicle Technology Co., Ltd.) will join the R&D project led by IEM by TOYOTA.

A source from Toyota said: "In terms of electrification and intelligence, we will strive to achieve significant reductions in manufacturing costs and further enhance competitiveness through 'expanding local suppliers', improving parts design, and reforming production technology and manufacturing processes." , Toyota Motor’s new president Tsuneharu Sato admitted that the development of pure electric vehicles is slow and that he will establish a new R&D system in China.

In 2022, Honda announced that it plans to invest 8 trillion yen in research and development over the next ten years, of which approximately 5 trillion yen will be invested in electrification and software technology.

In terms of products, Honda's two joint ventures in China also brought two models to the Guangzhou Auto Show last year.

  Although Japanese brands have repeatedly released signals of speeding up the layout of new energy vehicles, today’s China’s new energy vehicle market has evolved from “small” independent brands to new car-making forces. New models and new technologies are constantly being introduced, and competition has become increasingly fierce. Entering the intense stage, Japanese brands that started late are facing considerable challenges.

Taking the FAW Toyota bZ pure electric series as an example, cumulative sales in 2023 will be 33,000 units, and the average monthly sales will only be about 3,000 units, which is still far behind its own brand models.

  Beijing Business Daily reporter Liu Yang and Liu Xiaomeng