TOKYO (Reuters) -- Nissan expects auto demand in China's inland provinces to help it offset poor sales in Chinese coastal areas.
Declining sales in the world's second-biggest economy may slow Nissan's push into overseas markets, including Russia and Brazil, that helped drive the automaker to record global sales in the last financial year ended March.
"Increasing demand from inland China is offsetting (weak demand in coastal regions), and we have barely seen growth in overall Chinese demand compared to the previous year," Kimiyasu Nakamura, president of Dongfeng Motor Co., Nissan's joint venture with China's Dongfeng, said at a press conference in Tokyo.
Car sales in China climbed 5.2 percent in 2011, the slowest pace since the turn of the century, as consumers shunned local brands after Beijing scrapped tax incentives for small cars.
China's economy is expected by economists to grow at its weakest pace this year since 1999.
In April, Dongfeng said it aims to add a new model every year from its China-only Venucia brand, targeting annual sales of 300,000 vehicles by 2015, with five products and 250 exclusive dealers.