(Corrects expected date of Nissan’s Q3 earnings)
By Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co Ltd and its Chinese joint-venture partner aim to sell over 1.6 million vehicles in China this year, up from the 1.52 million vehicles they sold in the world’s biggest auto market in 2017, Nissan’s China chief Jun Seki told Reuters.
The target would indicate growth of around 5.3 percent, faster than official forecasts for the country’s overall market, but significantly slower than their 12.2 percent growth in China last year.
“We have not announced our target publicly, but we’ve told our dealers and others we aim to sell more than 1.6 million vehicles this year,” said Seki, president of Dongfeng Motor Co Ltd, a 50-50 joint venture between Nissan and China’s Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd.
The Yokohama, Japan-based automaker may announce its China sales target as early as Wednesday, when it is also expected to release its China January sales ahead of its third-quarter earnings results due on Thursday.
The automaker’s China venture is, however, privately aiming to sell well over 1.6 million vehicles this year, two Nissan executives said.
“Internally we are intending to sell significantly more than 1.6 million vehicles. We want to sell at least 1.7 million vehicles or more,” said one of the executives. Both declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak with the media.
Charles Shen, a Nissan spokesman, confirmed the official 2018 target but declined to comment on any internal goals.
Nissan earlier this week said it planned to invest 60 billion yuan ($9.5 billion) in China over the next five years with its joint-venture partner as it seeks to become a top-three automaker in the world’s biggest market.
Long stuck as a second-tier player in China, Nissan said it plans to boost its sales volume to 2.6 million vehicles a year by 2022, from around 1.5 million vehicles last year.
Rival Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corp said last week it aimed to sell 1.4 million vehicles in China this year, nearly 9 percent more than 2017, though executives said the target would be tough to meet.
Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Christopher Cushing