Honda leads Japanese carmakers' recovery in China as backlash fades

SHANGHAI (Bloomberg) -- Japan's three biggest automakers saw their sales in China surge last month as they recovered from last year's backlash against Japanese brands.

Honda led the rebound as sales doubled from a year earlier to the highest in 21 months, according to company figures released today. Toyota's deliveries climbed 63.5 percent and Nissan's. sales, excluding multipurpose vehicles, rose 83 percent.

All three automakers saw sales rise month, the first time that's happened since January, when the timing of the lunar new year holidays distorted year-earlier comparisons. Still, the rebound signals Japanese automakers are winning back customers after last year's territorial dispute between the two nations expanded into protests against Japanese products.

"It will take a little while before the Japanese can fully recover," said Zhou Jincheng, an analyst at automotive research firm Fourin Inc. in Nagoya, Japan. "But these companies will not give up on China."

Honda's recovery stood out among the three as it sold more vehicles in September than it did before the backlash. That's due to the popularity of its new models such as the Crider sedan, Zhou said.