A total of 378,291 new vehicles were sold nationwide last year, up 15.47 percent from a year earlier, marking three successive years of increase as the economy emerged from the doldrums of the global financial crisis in 2008, latest data showed yesterday.
Last year's numbers represented the highest level since 2005 when total automobile sales in Taiwan hit 514,626 units that year, data showed.
The full-year sales results came as figures released by the data communication branch of Chunghwa Telecom Co(中華電信) showed sales of new vehicles last month reached 30,876 units, compared with 32,445 units sold in November.
Last year’s full-year increase was larger than the 11.27 percent growth registered in the previous year, but slightly lower than analysts’ forecasts. First Capital Management Inc (第一金證券投顧) forecast new vehicle sales would total 380,000 units last year, up 16 percent from 327,615 units sold in 2010.
“Despite the potential replacement demand of consumers and auto companies’ plans to launch new models this year, the economy is likely to slow down in the first half of the year and Japanese automakers are raising prices on new models, which will affect consumer sentiment this year,” First Capital said in a note yesterday.
First Capital said it held a cautious view on this year’s outlook, forecasting new vehicle sales would reach 365,000 units for the entire year, the note said.
Daiwa Capital Markets analyst Albert Hsu (徐志偉) said in his latest industry report that Taiwan’s auto sector would likely face “near-term volatility” in the first half because of political uncertainty and economic slowdown.
“We have revised down our 2012 and 2013 domestic auto demand forecast for Taiwan by 4 percent and 3 percent respectively to reflect the potentially weaker domestic economy and uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential election in the middle of January,” Hsu wrote in the report issued on Thursday.
The government’s data released yesterday showed that Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), which distributes Toyota and Lexus vehicles, remained the market leader in Taiwan, with a share of 31.6 percent last year. It sold 119,425 units for the year, up 17.6 percent from 2010 and constituting their best year since 2005, data showed.
“It was a rare and commendable year for Toyota,” Hotai said in a statement.
China Motor Corp (中華汽車) followed with a market share of 14.5 percent. It sold 54,891 Mitsubishi cars last year, up 13.6 percent from a year ago, according to the government’s data.
Yulon Nissan Motor Co (裕隆日產) was positioned in third with a market share of 11.7 percent. It sold 44,282 Nissan and Infiniti vehicles last year, with sales up 16.3 percent year-on-year, the data showed.