Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (TM)’s Opportunity: An Update – Ford Motor Company (F), General Motors Company (GM)

So far, the recall seems not to have had a major impact on Toyota’s sales. The same couldn’t be said for a controversy in China that hit Toyota hard last fall. A dispute between Japan and China over ownership of a group of islands led to sharp anti-Japanese sentiments in the Middle Kingdom — sentiments that have played out harshly for the Japanese automakers. Toyota reported a 49% decrease in sales in September versus the year-ago figure, comparable to declines reported by Nissan and Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC) . It responded by halving its production in China, and its 2012 sales fell well short of the company’s earlier estimates.

Meanwhile, key competitors like VW, Hyundai, and Ford have all seen big sales increases in China as they have moved to take advantage of their Japanese rivals’ troubles. It’s still unclear whether this was a passing blip or a more enduring shift in consumer sentiments that will affect market share over the long haul. But it represented a sizable sales loss for Toyota — one that could, should the shift prove enduring, damage its chances to challenge GM and VW for the global auto sales crown in future years.

The article Toyota’s Opportunity: An Update originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by John Rosevear.

Fool contributor John Rosevear owns shares of General Motors and Ford. Follow him on Twitter at @jrosevear. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Ford and General Motors.

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