Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), which distributes Toyota and Lexus vehicles in Taiwan, yesterday launched the Toyota Prius PHV, a mid-sized plug-in hybrid priced at NT$1.6 million (US$52,363).
The launch is seen as part of Hotai’s efforts to diversify its product mix and capture the dominant share in the local market for eco-friendly autos, after electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc expanded its footprint in Taiwan last year.
Revenue from hybrid vehicles is expected to contribute more than 10 percent of Hotai’s total sales this year, company president Justin Su (蘇純興) said at a launch event in Taipei.
As for the company’s next step, Hotai is to introduce the Lexus LC luxury sports coupe in the second quarter and the Lexus LS in the fourth quarter, it said.
Hotai has set a target of selling 140,000 vehicles this year, slightly up from last year’s 139,495 units.
Hotai forecast 430,000 new autos would be sold this year, compared with last year’s 439,629, saying that the effect of the government’s commodity tax cut stimulus program might diminish.
From January through last month, the company remained the largest auto distributor in Taiwan, with a market share of 29 percent, data compiled by local motor vehicle branches showed.
In the first quarter, new car sales rose 1 percent year-on-year to 107,687 units, data showed.
The Toyota dealer sold 31,320 cars during the period, while China Motor Corp (中華汽車), the second-largest car distributor in the nation, sold 12,274 units, data showed.
Hotai’s first-quarter net profit surged 17.21 percent year-on-year to NT$47.09 billion, a record high.
The performance was primarily due to its acquisition of Zurich Insurance (Taiwan) Ltd (蘇黎世產險), the company said.
For the whole of last year, Hotai saw its net profit rose 9.86 percent to NT$10.74 billion on an annual basis, representing earnings of NT$19.66 per share, company data showed.
Based on last year’s earnings, the company plans to distribute a cash dividend of NT$12 per share, the same as last year.
With Hotai’s shares closing at NT$355.5 in Taipei yesterday, the proposed cash dividend translated into a dividend yield of 3.38 percent and a payout ratio of 61 percent.
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