March 1, 2013 / 6:16 AM / in 5 years

Toyota says Feb China auto sales down 45.7 pct yr/yr

SHANGHAI, March 1 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp and its China joint ventures sold 36,300 cars in the country in February, down 45.7 percent from a year earlier, the Japanese automaker said on Friday.

That compares with a rise in January of 23.5 percent from a year earlier, though figures were skewed due to the timing of the week-long Spring Festival holiday.

Showrooms in the world’s largest auto market are often closed for much of China’s Lunar New Year holiday that fell in January last year but came in February this year.

Toyota’s January-February combined sales were 108,800 units, down 13.3 percent from the same period a year earlier, it said in a text message to reporters.

Nissan Motor Co Ltd’s January-February sales may have fallen around 20 percent from a year earlier, the firm’s China head said on Tuesday.

China sales of Japanese car makers took a severe hit late last year following violent anti-Japan protests in September after Japan nationalised two East China Sea islands. China claims the islands as its own territory.

Sales have been recovering but some industry experts say the Japanese brands are likely to face some headwinds in the world’s biggest market as long as diplomatic ties remain strained.

Toyota, which operates car ventures in China with FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co , aims to sell 900,000 cars in the country this year, up 7.1 percent from a year earlier. (Reporting by Kazunori Takada; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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