Sat, Mar 03, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Automobile sales plunge after two long holidays

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff Reporter

The nation’s automobile industry, which is led by Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車) in terms of vehicle sales, saw the number of new car sales plunge by 46 percent last month from January, suggesting the seasonal slowdown in consumer spending that followed the Lunar New Year holiday and the four-day 228 holiday had taken a toll on business.

Last month 22,027 new vehicles were sold nationwide, up 26.6 percent year-on-year, according to the latest figures from the data communication branch of Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信).

However, a more accurate comparison of the industry’s performance comes from analyzing combined sales for the first two months, since last year’s Lunar New Year holiday fell in February and this year’s holiday was in late January.

The latest data showed new vehicles sales totaled 62,810 units in the first two months, down 11.2 percent from the same period last year.

While the rising value of the New Taiwan dollar last month has partially offset cost increases in imported components and raw materials, soaring crude oil prices — which prompted refiners to raise domestic gasoline and diesel prices to their highest levels in seven months this week — could push potential car buyers to look for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Hotai, which distributes Toyota and Lexus cars, has high hopes for its locally produced Camry hybrid model, after launching the vehicle last month.

The company had secured about 1,200 orders for the 2.5-liter hybrid by the end of last month, and it aims to sell 12,000 units this year, according to Hotai.

“With Greece disappearing, at least temporarily, from the headlines, investors have quickly found a new source of anxiety, thanks to the recent surge in oil prices,” HSBC chief economist Stephen King said in a note yesterday.

Last month alone, Hotai reported its sales dropped 57.1 percent to 6,590 vehicles from January, with a market share of 29.9 percent. Last month’s figures were 43.4 percent higher than the previous year, the latest industry data showed.

Yulon Nissan Motor Co (裕隆日產) took second place with a market share of 14.9 percent. It sold 3,292 Nissan and Infiniti vehicles last month, with sales down 46.1 percent month-on-month, but up 26.1 percent year-on-year, the data showed.

Sales at China Motor Corp (中華汽車), which had a market share of 14.2 percent, sold 3,132 cars last month under the Mitsubishi and CMC brands, down 49.2 percent from last month, but up 9.1 percent from a year ago, according to the data.

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