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* Toyota China sales rise 18.6 pct in June yr/yr
* Sales for first six months this year up 24.9 pct
* Toyota on track to sell 1 mln cars in China this year -spokesman
By Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING July 2 (Reuters) - Sales in China by Toyota Motor Corp and its two local joint-venture partners rose 18.6 percent in June from a year earlier to about 70,500 vehicles, according to a company spokesman, partially due to a pick up in production following last year’s quake and tsumami in northeast Japan.
For the first six months of this year, the Japanese auto maker sold a total of about 442,500 vehicles, a 24.9-percent increase from the same period last year, said Beijing-based spokesman Takanori Yokoi.
Another Toyota spokesman in the Chinese capital, Hitoshi Yokoyama, said Toyota was “on pace” to meet its sales goal of selling a total of 1 million vehicles in China this year.
“In China, sales usually boom toward the end of the year each year, and we believe we are likely to achieve our sales objective,” Yokoyama said.
The relatively high double-digit growth in June and the doubling of sales in May were due in part, Yokoyama said, to the fact that sales during the same months last year were comparatively low due to the March 11 earthquake that devastated parts of Japan.
The quake and subsequent tsunami paralyzed production of key components, impacted Toyota’s vehicle output around the world, including China.
Toyota’s China sales last year totaled about 883,400 vehicles, a 4.4 percent increase from 2010, reflecting in part the general slowdown of automobile sales in China last year and the lack of attractive small, fuel-efficient cars that have become popular among first-time buyers in China in recent years.
The pace of sales growth slowed considerably last month from May when Toyota and its Chinese partners doubled sales.
Toyota would have to increase sales by about 13 percent on average each month this year to meet its goal of selling one million vehicles. (Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Ken Wills)