Thu, Jan 03, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Nation’s car sales decline amid sluggish economy

LOCAL LEADER:Hotai Motor Co bucked the downward trend with total sales up 3.6 percent from the previous year and luxury car sales up 26 percent to 10,391 units

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

A total of 365,871 cars were sold in Taiwan last year, down 3.3 percent from a year ago, due to the nation’s economic slowdown, although vehicle sales soared 20.38 percent last month from November, the latest industry data showed.

Last month, domestic vendors sold 34,580 cars, compared with 28,726 units sold in November, according to the latest statistics released by the data communication branch of Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信).

Of the total cars sold last year, sales in the premium models rose by 8.1 percent year-on-year to 49,037 units last year, the data showed.

Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), which distributes Toyota and Lexus vehicles, sold 123,740 cars last year, up 3.6 percent from the previous year. Last year’s figure was the company’s highest number since 2005.

Hotai Motor Co — the nation’s top auto vendor for 11 years with a market share of 33.8 percent — saw its Lexus luxury car sales increase 26 percent to 10,391 units from a year ago, the data showed.

The shrinking car market last year was the result of the sputtering economy and the rise of oil prices and electricity rates, Hotai said in a statement.

“Last year’s result is close to the mild decline we had expected,” Hotai public relations manager Yu Shiao-chung (喻曉忠) said by telephone.

As for the growth of its Lexus model, Yu attributed the results to a low base level in 2011, when Lexus sales were dragged down by the earthquake which struck Japan on March 11 that year, and the releases of new Lexus cars last year.

For this year, Yu said the company forecast total car sales to be between 360,000 and 370,000 units.

If the Legislative Yuan can pass a bill to subsidize car owners with cars older than 15 years to buy new cars, total sales could increase further, he said.

Yu said there are currently 7 million cars in Taiwan and 3 million of them are more than 15 years old.

The company does not have an estimate for the effects of the bill because the size of the subsidy has not been set, Yu added.

China Motor Corp (中華汽車), which manufactures Mitsubishi sedans and CMC commercial vehicles in Taiwan, kept its place as the second-largest car vendor last year with 13.2 percent market share.

It sold 48,407 vehicles last year, down 11.8 percent from a year ago.

Yulon Nissan Motor Co (裕隆日產), the distributor of Nissan and Infiniti cars, ranked third in the market with a market share of 11.2 percent. The company sold 40,902 vehicles, down 7.6 percent from a year ago.

A Yulon official, who declined to be named, said by telephone he believed the car market would be slightly better this year because the economy has bottomed out.

Shares of Hotai rose 0.21 percent to NT$233.5 and China Motor was up 0.18 percent to NT$27.3 in Taipei trading yesterday.

Yulon Nissan jumped 3.11 percent to NT$232, while Yulon Motor Co (裕隆汽車) rose 1.09 percent to NT$55.6.

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