Sat, Sep 23, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Car sale figures show mixed industry performance

YEARLY DECLINE Industry analysts say they expect total new vehicle sales in Taiwan this year could be less than 400,000, down from 514,000 units last year

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite recent political unrest, the nation's new vehicle sales for the first 20 days of this month reported were up from the same period last month, according to the latest government statistics.

Automobile sales from Sept. 1 to Sept. 20 totaled 10,391 units, up 62 percent from the previous month, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Aside from the political situation, Taiwanese consumers are typically cautious with their money over Ghost Month, so analysts consider the figures especially high.

But the September figure still showed a sharp drop over the same period last year -- down 50 percent.

"Consumer spending has been soft so far, and the ongoing political turmoil this month did not help lift it," said Honda Taiwan Co spokesman Chen Chun-liang (陳俊亮), referring to former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) current campaign to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Sales this month will probably be slightly over 20,000 units -- much lower than the industry's earlier projection of 27,000, he said.

In view of the downturn, Honda Taiwan will not boost output this year at its production plant in Pingtung City, which has a capacity of 35,000 vehicles a year.

The site produced a total of 23,000 units of Honda CR-V minivans and Accord sedans last year, up from 15,000 units a year earlier.

With Civic sedans added to the production line in April, the company originally expected it would increase capacity to 30,000 units.

But Chen said the target has been trimmed down to last year's level in the wake of the current political unrest.

Other major car vendors have followed Honda to downwardly adjust their sales targets for the year.

Yulon Nissan Motor Co (裕隆日產) trimmed its sales target from 70,000 units to 50,000 for the year,while Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車) has adjusted its annual sales target to 125,000 units, down from its original forecast of 150,000.

Industry analysts said they expected total vehicle sales could be lower than 400,000, down from more than 514,000 units last year.

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