While new Corolla models sold well in China in March, competition hit sales of models like the RAV4

While new Corolla models sold well in China in March, competition hit sales of models like the RAV4

Car sales by Toyota Motor's two Chinese joint ventures fell 20.9% to 71,500 units in March while volume in the first three months of 2015 dipped 0.1% to 227,700.

The results, announced on Wednesday, amounted to what a company spokesman told Reuters was a surprisingly weak showing in the world's largest car market.

Takanori Yokoi, a Beijing based Toyota spokesman, told the news agency the newly redesigned Corolla and Levin models sold well during March but sales of both the RAV4 crossover SUV and the Vios compact car were particularly disappointing.

Yokoi blamed the big March year on year slide mostly on the fierce competition those two models faced in China. He cited, for example, dealers discounting competitive cars such as the Honda CR-V crossover, creating competition for the RAV4 and eating into its sales.

Toyota and its Chinese joint ventures sold about 71,500 vehicles in China in March. Its volume during the January-March quarter totalled about 227,700 vehicles.

Reuters noted Toyota wants to sell 1.1m vehicles in China in 2015 after failing to clear that sales level and meet last year's target. That means its expected pace of growth in China would almost halve this year, to 6.8%. It sold about 1.03m vehicles in China last year, up 12.5% from 2013.

Yokoi told the news agency on Wednesday the company was still on track to achieve its China sales objective for 2015.

Toyota joint ventures in China are with China FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile.

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