Taiwanese automakers got off to a strong start this year with robust domestic sales of 53,310 new vehicles last month, expanding 205.5 percent from a year earlier and reaching the highest monthly level in nearly four years.
Figures released by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday showed sales of new vehicles last month also saw an increase of 73.04 percent from 30,808 units in December.
The latest car sales data underlined the increasingly upbeat sentiment among the public about the purchase of durable goods, with the latest consumer confidence survey released by the National Central University on Jan. 25 showing the sub-index for durable goods climbing 2.4 points last month to 93.10.
This was lower only than the sub-indexes for stock investment (102.4) and for job opportunities (95.85).
Auto sales, as measured by the number of vehicles with license plate applications, are one of the durable goods monitored by economists and industry players as an indicator of consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the nation’s overall economic activity.
For the whole of last year, auto sales rose 11.27 percent to 327,615 vehicles from 294,423 in 2009, marking two successive years of increase after shrinking for three consecutive years, the government’s data showed.
However, last month’s surging sales also suggested that customers had rushed to buy new cars ahead of potential price hikes by several automakers after the Lunar New Year holiday to reflect the increased cost of raw materials such as steel and rubber.
Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), which distributes both Toyota and Lexus models, on Monday posted an announcement on its Web site that it would raise the prices of new models by a range of between 1.2 percent and 1.5 percent, effective this month.
Hotai’s announcement came after Ford Lio Ho Motor Co (福特六和) and Honda Taiwan Co (台灣本田) said earlier this year that they would raise prices, beginning this month.
Last month, Ford Lio Ho said it planned to increase prices by between 1.5 percent and 4 percent on various models to reflect the rising value of the yen and the euro against the US dollar, as well as costlier raw materials.
Honda Taiwan also said last month that it planned to hike prices by a range of between 3 percent and 5 percent.
Last month, Hotai Motor maintained its place as the domestic market leader, selling 19,141 units, up 153 percent year-on-year and accounting for 35.9 percent of the market, the latest government data showed.
China Motor Corp (中華汽車), the runner-up in terms of vehicle sales, distributed 7,539 Mitsubishi-brand vehicles, up 78.9 percent year-on-year with a market share of 14.1 percent.
That was followed by Yulon Nissan Motor Co (裕隆日產), which sold 7,182 cars last month, up 65.4 percent with a market share of 13.5 percent, the government’s tallies showed.
As for imported vehicles, sales reached 11,455 units last month, up 124 percent year-on-year, led by Mercedes-Benz’s 1,134 units. That was followed by BMW’s 1,017 units, Volkswagen’s 1,050 and 386 for Audi.