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Business

Toyota China sales tumble on the back of islands dispute

Auto giant Toyota has seen showroom traffic and sales in China plunge amid anti-Japanese protests stirred by a territorial dispute. The fall in sales could threaten profit forecasts of the world's largest car firm.

Toyota's sales in China nosedived about 33 percent in September, from about 75,000 cars sold in August to just about 50,000 last month, a senior company executive told Reuters news agency under the condition of anonymity Friday.

Compared with September 2011, the world's largest carmaker by sales so far this year, sold 36,000 vehicles less to Chinese customers - a decline by about 40 percent.

The dramatic decline in Chinese demand for Toyota cars comes after violent protests and calls for boycotts of Japanese products prompted by a row over Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. The Japanese government has bought them from their private owner last month, but China has claimed the islands to be its territory.

Toyota, which has nine production sites in China, closed its factories at the height of protests in mid-September, but is scheduled to reopen them on Monday.

However, Toyota is reportedly planning to drastically cut production in China by around 50 percent of October targets due to anti-Japanese sentiments.

According to Japan's Nikkei business daily newspaper, Toyota would determine the production volume for the month in line with sales and inventories. The carmaker was also planning to stop exports of Lexus luxury cars and other models from Japan until November, the newspaper said Friday.

The sales plunge is expected to hit Toyota's 2012 earnings forecasts, and will likely undermine the firm's ambitious plan to sell one million cars in China this year.

uhe/cg (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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