(Recasts and adds Honda sales)
* Nissan sales up 22.2 pct, Honda up 22 pct
* Toyota up 23.5 pct
* Figures skewed by Chinese New Year holiday
* Impact of anti-Japan protests has been on the wane
Feb 4 Nissan Motor Co Ltd and other
Japanese carmakers saw their China car sales improve in January
but figures were skewed due to weak holiday-hit sales a year
earlier and questions still hang over progress made since
anti-Japan protests last year.
Showroom traffic in the world's largest auto market slows
dramatically during China's Lunar New Year holiday, a week-long
break that fell in January last year but starts on Feb. 9 this
That calendar mismatch helped Nissan and Honda Motor Co
join Toyota Motor Corp in reporting
double-digit climbs in January sales, the first rise since a
territorial row over islands in the East China Sea sent sales
tumbling in September.
Nissan said sales jumped 22.2 percent in January to 115,700
vehicles, while Honda's increased 22 percent. Toyota, which
reported on Friday, logged a 23.5 percent rise.
Even without the calendar impact, though, the effect of the
territorial row has waned, with the pace of declines in December
much less than drops of almost half seen in September and
October, helped by generous incentives.
"Given the difference in the number of working days between
this year and last due to the Spring Festival, there is a need
to compare the January-February figure. That said, we think the
situation is improving compared with a month ago," Nissan said
in an emailed statement.
A Toyota executive said last month that showroom traffic in
China was recovering to levels seen before the crisis and at a
pace faster than expected.
Other automakers have been more downbeat, with Mazda's China
Chief Noriaki Yamada saying in November that he expected
first-quarter sales to slide by about a fifth from year-earlier
levels but that the impact of the row should fade by the end of
After years of breakneck expansion, China vehicles sales
have lost some steam, climbing 4.3 percent to 19.3 million in
2012. This year, the China Association of Automobile
Manufacturers estimates growth of 7 percent.
(Reporting by Fang Yan in BEIJING and Kazunori Takada in
SHANGHAI; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)