As Nissan reels from heavy losses and slumping global sales, the China market is looking like its best bet for a turnaround, Automotive News reports. This is buoyed by its early entry into the world’s second largest auto market – in 2003, Nissan took on a 50:50 partnership with Dongfeng Motor Group, allowing ample time to establish itself as one of the strongest Japanese passenger automakers in the country.

In June, it ranked fourth in terms of car sales volume (excluding MPVs) with a 6.7% market share, trailing behind Volkswagen Group’s two joint venture companies and GM-SAIC Motor. While Nissan’s global sales performance took a drastic back seat, shipments in China only slid by 1%, and still comprises one-third of the 4.93 million cars it sold worldwide.

In fact, sales for Nissan have been on the up since April, and peaked in July with 121,000 units (12% up compared to July 2019). In August, that figure dipped by a mere 2.4%, but the bright side remains the fact that the Sylphy outsold the Volkswagen Lavida to be the best-selling model in the country.

Nissan CEO Ashwani Gupta told Bloomberg News that the automaker “has established a strong presence in China and continues to grow with a focus on delivering customer satisfaction.” Together with Dongfeng, it aims to boost total vehicle sales to 2.6 million by 2022. Nissan sold 1.55 million units in China during the latest fiscal year.

The MQB-based Volkswagen Lavida Plus

China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) secretary general, Cui Dongshu said: “Nissan’s edge in China is its appealing brand power accumulated from competitive models over the years. Yet it is quite challenging for the company to compete with Toyota because the latter has proven its competitiveness in innovation and competency in winning over motorists for not only its Toyota brand, but also Lexus.”

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Tatsuo Yoshida added that the next 12 months will be critical for Nissan, and it needs to introduce new models. “If Nissan delays even slightly, it will immediately be put in a weaker position. Toyota and Honda will constantly introduce new cars,” he said.

Auto sales in China accounts for nearly 30% of the world’s total volume, and it’s the only country in the world with an annual tally exceeding 20 million units.