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Honda China car sales beat target as Japanese brands play catch-up

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Honda Motor Co sold more than one million vehicles in China last year, beating its previously announced 2015 target of 950,000 units, the Japanese company said on Monday.

[BEIJING] Honda Motor Co sold more than one million vehicles in China last year, beating its previously announced 2015 target of 950,000 units, the Japanese company said on Monday.

Honda said it will release detailed sales figures for 2015 on Friday.

Japanese marques have trailed Western competitors such as General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co in the world's largest auto market, in part because of anti-Japanese sentiment periodically flaring up among Chinese consumers.

But Honda and Toyota Motor Corp began gaining back momentum last year, posting strong sales growth largely on the back of in-demand sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and helped by improving relations between the countries. Toyota will report its 2015 full-year sales on Tuesday.

The two companies posted double-digit sales growth in the first 11 months of 2015. Their full-year growth is set to be a contrast to the overall market, which is predicted to grow 3 per cent this year.

Aiming to keep its momentum going, Honda said it will introduce 15 new or redesigned models, including eight specifically tweaked for China, in the next three years. One of the models will be a new budget SUV, a segment that continues to far outpace the overall market, to go on sale in 2016.

Honda's 2015 overall sales volume in China is still set to trail behind rivals Toyota and Nissan Motor Co, which both broke the 1 million sales mark in the first 11 months of 2015.

REUTERS