Appliance makers target China

The Washington Post
Posted3/24/2013 7:18 AM
  • Hitachi's high-end consumer electronic products are displayed at Appliance World Expo in Shanghai.

    Hitachi's high-end consumer electronic products are displayed at Appliance World Expo in Shanghai. Yomiuri Shimbun

SHANGHAI -- Japanese home appliance manufacturers came out to promote their refrigerators, air-cleaning devices and other wares at Appliance World Expo in Shanghai.

Hitachi and Panasonic were among those displaying their appliances at China's largest exhibition of home electronic products.

The Japanese companies are clearly aiming to distinguish themselves from Chinese and South Korean rivals, who are still fiercely competing in sales of TV sets.

Hitachi plans to release high-end drum-type washing machines in China in August. The price will likely be about 20,000 yuan (about $3,145), which is seven to eight times higher than prices of ordinary washing machines in China.

A Hitachi official in charge of sales of the products said the company aims to focus on Chinese "consumers whose outlooks are not affected by Japan-China confrontations" over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

Hitachi prominently labeled its products as Japanese-made to demonstrate they have high performance. Panasonic displays a wide range of energy-saving products that can be used in various places from kitchens to living rooms.

Both Japanese firms put home appliances on display as their flagship products. Their new models of air-cleaning devices are attracting attention as they can cope with China's increasingly serious air pollution.

Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers are trying to appeal to Chinese consumers with their advanced technology. Sharp Corp. is developing models of high-end refrigerators for the Chinese market. Mitsubishi Electric has enhanced its efforts to sell air conditioners to wealthy people in China.

While Hitachi and Panasonic displayed only a few TV models, South Korea's LG Electronics placed a 55-inch TV that is just 4 millimeters thick at the front of its display booth. Its 84-inch liquid-crystal display TV models, to be released by the end of this year, have also attracted keen attention.

China's Haier Group, a major appliance maker, was displaying a 4K TV model, which has an extremely high-resolution screen. An official of the firm said Haier plans to release the new model in April.

A Panasonic official said about the Chinese market, "The long-term trend of market expansion has not changed."

Japanese firms' efforts to sell appliances in China will thus continue to draw interest.

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