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Lexus Cuts Production Over China Tensions: Report


2013 Lexus ES 350

2013 Lexus ES 350

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Just last week we told you about increasing anti-Japanese sentiment in China, prompted by a territorial dispute over a series of uninhabited islands (this time). The Chinese are nothing if not nationalistic, and the dispute has led to the vandalism or destruction of a few Japanese car dealerships.

It goes without saying, then, that demand for Japanese cars, once considered a symbol of status and achievement, has fallen off sharply in recent weeks. In response to this, Just Auto is reporting that Toyota will cut back production of Lexus models bound for the Chinese market, beginning this month.

Based on reports in the Japanese media, production at the Lexus assembly line in Kyushu, Japan will be cut from 1,300 units daily to some 1,000 units. Among the models being trimmed back are the ES sedan and the CT 200h hybrid, which likely sell in higher quantities than the more expensive GS and LS models.

Toyota insists that local inventories in China are sufficient to meet demand for the time being, and says it will return to normal production once the situation in China stabilizes. We’ve got to imagine there’s some angst in the Toyota boardroom these days, though, since the crisis in China isn’t helped by slowing European sales.

For now, anyway, neither Nissan nor Honda appear to be impacted by the situation in China, as neither automaker has the same market presence as Toyota and Lexus.

Some say that tensions are easing between China and Japan, but public sentiment doesn’t always move as fast as political rhetoric. Will the Chinese resume their love affair with Japanese cars when the current storm clouds blow over? Only time will tell.
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