Just for the record, Toyota is not pulling out of China

Automotive News | October 22, 2012 - 1:00 pm EST

TOKYO -- How's this for red herring of the year?

Chinese media are saying that Toyota Motor Corp. denies press reports that it plans to pull out of the world's biggest auto market.

Gee, we knew tensions were running high between China and Japan over the countries' ongoing territorial spat. But who knew that the dispute had plumbed such lows that the world's biggest automaker was considering packing up its operations and going home?

Something smacks of political pressure here.

The original source of the "reports" saying that Toyota was going to pull out of China is unclear.

Japanese media have reported that Toyota is trimming its annual sales target because of slumping sales in China.

But there was nothing about abandoning the market.

Still, the Chinese government-backed China Daily wasted little time in fanning speculation by reporting late last week that "Toyota denies withdrawing from China." In case anyone wondered.

The China Daily's report continued: "Toyota has denied media reports that it will withdraw from the Chinese market and shut down production facilities in the country."

Toyota sales in China have plunged since the territorial dispute and riots. But the automaker also operates eight assembly plants in China, with three joint venture partners, making a withdraw from the market highly unlikely.

Photo credit: Bloomberg

Just for the record, Toyota does deny it. I checked.

But something is disingenuous about inventing a news angle that had not existed and giving it life through a denial. It's akin to asking Toyota if it plans to pull out of North America or is working on a car that can fly to Mars.

Just as China was magically engulfed in "spontaneous" anti-Japanese protests that were turned off like a faucet by the Chinese government, you might suspect similar machinations behind local press coverage of the Japanese automakers there.

Toyota sales in China have plunged since the territorial dispute and riots. And you should never say never, even about Toyota pulling out of a market.

But look at the numbers.

Toyota has eight assembly plants in China, with three joint venture partners. Last year, it made more than 800,000 vehicles in China, and the company directly employs more than 28,000 people there. Through August, it sold more than 630,000 vehicles to be the country's No. 4 foreign manufacturer. What's more, Toyota just opened its third technical center there.

Pulling out of China wouldn't just be foolish, it's impossible.

Toyota sales in China have plunged since the territorial dispute and riots. But the automaker also operates eight assembly plants in China, with three joint venture partners, making a withdraw from the market highly unlikely.

Photo credit: Bloomberg

Just for the record, Toyota does deny it. I checked.

But something is disingenuous about inventing a news angle that had not existed and giving it life through a denial. It's akin to asking Toyota if it plans to pull out of North America or is working on a car that can fly to Mars.

Just as China was magically engulfed in "spontaneous" anti-Japanese protests that were turned off like a faucet by the Chinese government, you might suspect similar machinations behind local press coverage of the Japanese automakers there.

Toyota sales in China have plunged since the territorial dispute and riots. And you should never say never, even about Toyota pulling out of a market.

But look at the numbers.

Toyota has eight assembly plants in China, with three joint venture partners. Last year, it made more than 800,000 vehicles in China, and the company directly employs more than 28,000 people there. Through August, it sold more than 630,000 vehicles to be the country's No. 4 foreign manufacturer. What's more, Toyota just opened its third technical center there.

Pulling out of China wouldn't just be foolish, it's impossible.

Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive NewsHans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News

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