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A Honda showroom in Shanghai

Honda, other Japan carmakers stepping up sales in China

More showrooms opening to sate appetite for SUVs

| China

TOKYO -- Japanese automakers are moving to catch up with Western rivals in China by increasing dealerships and adapting to changing consumer tastes, including the growing popularity of SUVs.

Honda Motor will speed up opening new dealerships as more potential buyers emerge in inland China in addition to coastal cities. The company has two Chinese joint ventures -- Dongfeng Honda Automobile in Hubei Province and Guangqi Honda Automobile in Guangdong Province, and its dealership count was around 970 at the end of 2016, including those selling the luxury brand Acura. It aims to increase this by around 10% to 1,060 or more locations this year. Previously, showroom openings ranged between 10 to 50 locations per year, but the pace will now pick up.

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