Nissan's China sales fell 12% in January as coronavirus epidemic weighs

FILE PHOTO: A Nissan logo is pictured at Brussels Motor Show, Belgium, January 9, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BEIJING (Reuters) - Japanese carmaker Nissan 7201.T said on Friday its sales in China, the world's biggest auto market, fell by 11.8% in January year-on-year, as the Lunar New Year holiday began earlier than usual and the outbreak of coronavirus stymied economic activity.

The company, which has embarked on a turnaround strategy to tackle a slump in sales, had been counting on strong Chinese business.

Last year, it sold around 1.55 million cars in China, 1.1% lower than a year earlier, but bucking the overall Chinese car market that dropped by 8.2%.

Nissan sold 118,143 vehicles in China last month. It is expected to announce its October-to-December results next week.

The company, which has a joint venture with the Dongfeng Group 0489.HK, based in Wuhan where the coronavirus has been concentrated, said is considering restarting production in China sometime after Feb. 10.

Production in Hubei province of which Wuhan is the capital, will start sometime after Feb. 14.

Reuters has reported Nissan aims to sell around 1.6 million cars through its China venture this year.

Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu and Yilei Sun; editing by Barbara Lewis