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While Detroit Gains Ground, Japanese Makers Stumble in China

Toyota, Honda, Nissan all hurt by island dispute with China.

by on Jan.07, 2013

A Toyota dealership in Qingdao was burned by protestors in a dispute over an island chain claimed by both China and Japan.

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have ended 2012 with all-time sales records in China — but the news is nowhere near as good for Japanese makers.

Stung by a dispute between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have all suffered a sharp decline in sales in what has become the world’s largest automotive market.

While General Motors has yet to release its final figures for 2012, the maker already passed its previous peak by the end of November, the 2.59 million vehicles it sold for all of 2011. GM has set a goal of boosting sales in China to 5 million by mid-decade.

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Ford, meanwhile, has confirmed its sales in China rose 21% last year, to 626,616, also an all-time high. The maker was a relative latecomer to the Chinese market but has been aggressively expanding both its product portfolio and production capacity over the last several years.


Honda Crippled By Chinese Strike

Workers demanding wage, benefit bump to $340 a month.

by on Jun.01, 2010

A strike at a southern Chinese transmission plant has shut down production of the Honda Jazz subcompact, which is exported to Europe.

A rare strike has crippled Honda Motor Co.’s growing Chinese production operations, despite efforts to fire or coerce workers who’re hoping to boost their $230 a month  wages.

The walkout was launched on May 17 at a parts plant in the southern province of Guangdong at a transmission plant that supplies Honda’s auto assembly operations in China.  The strike has cost the Japanese carmaker thousands of units in lost production, including versions of the Jazz subcompact that are shipped to Europe.

The walkout is unusual in that the official Communist-backed All China Federation of Labor Unions normally seeks to avoid confrontation with management.  Some workers at the transmission plant, which is located in the city of Foshan, claim they were physically assaulted by union leaders.  Others were reportedly fired when they declined to accept Honda’s initial offer.

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The Honda plant has a well-educated workforce, most of its line employees boasting college or 2-year technical degrees.  But the automaker has been able to hold down wages, in many cases, by bringing in many employees as “trainees.”

An early proposal by Honda, according to reports from China, would have offered the striking workers less than $2 a day to settle their grievances, but the latest offer, the maker said, would increase pay and benefits by 24%.  Workers had sought a 53% bump, to $340 a month, or 2,300 yuan.