Fri, Oct 03, 2008 - Page 12 News List

New automobile sales hit 22-year low

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Domestic sales of new cars hit a 22-year low last month at 16,737 units, down 22.6 percent from a year earlier, an auto distributor said, attributing the drop to the plunging stock market and three successive typhoons last month.

In the first nine months of the year, 182,016 new cars were sold, down 27.2 percent from a year earlier, according to statistics compiled by Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), which distributes both Toyota and Lexus models, and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).

Roger Chiu (邱奕嘉), head of public relations at Hotai Motor, said that in addition to high oil prices, the plunging stock market and the US financial crisis had made the public wary about the economy, causing them to refrain from spending.

“This is particularly evident in the nation’s climbing savings rate,” Chiu said.

In an attempt to stimulate sales, Hotai Motor set prices for its imported Toyota RAV4 compact sports utility vehicle (SUV) — introduced to the local market in late August — close to those of domestic SUVs.

Last month Hotai Motor sold 572 of the RAV4s imported from Japan. By comparison, it sold 592 Honda CR-Vs.

Total new car sales are expected to fall between 220,000 and 230,000 units this year, representing a drop of nearly 30 percent from 326,777 units last year, Chiu said.

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