Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), the nation’s largest car distributor, yesterday gave an optimistic outlook for its Lexus models, thanks to better-than-expected demand for the NX series in the domestic market.
“Hotai has received orders for 2,000 units of the NX luxury compact crossover since last month,” company president Justin Su (蘇純興) told reporters at a launch event for the Lexus LS model in Taipei, attributing the strong buying interest to the booming local stock market.
In light of rising customer demand, the company has set a target of selling 16,000 Lexus cars next year, up from about 15,000 this year, he said.
Hotai also aims to sell 1,000 Lexus LS cars, which has a starting price of NT$4.57 million (US$152,029), over the coming year, it said.
Despite a positive outlook for Lexus, Su gave relatively conservative guidance on Hotai’s earnings performance for the whole of this year, given the firm’s latest financial results.
Hotai’s net profit in the first three quarters of this year totaled NT$7.77 billion, a 5.13 percent decline from NT$8.19 billion a year earlier, according to a company filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
That translated into earnings of NT$14.23 per share, down from NT$15 per share a year earlier, with sales falling 0.4 percent from NT$113 billion to NT$112.55 billion on an annual basis.
The decline came after two of the company’s most popular low-priced models, Innova and Wish, were discontinued in the nation last year, a Hotai official said.
In related news, Hotai’s local peer, Ford Lio Ho Motor Co (福特六和), a joint venture between US automaker Ford and the Lio Ho Group (六和集團), yesterday introduced its Escort compact cars to local customers as part of the firm’s NT$4 billion project to manufacture the Escort series and upgrade its production processes in Taiwan over the next five years.
The Taiwanese market still plays an important role in Ford’s operations in the Asia-Pacific region, despite the US brand’s withdrawal from Japan and Indonesia, Ford Lio Ho president Tim Ju (朱忠園) told a media gathering.
Asked about future plans, Ju said Ford Lio Ho has been working on the research and development of cars that have low-displacement engines to meet the government’s emission standards.
The firm would also consider developing electric cars if the government puts forward a more deliberate policy for electric vehicles, he said, adding that the issue of a lack of charging infrastructure has yet to be resolved.
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