Wed, Feb 13, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Car sales to fall 2.3% on economic malaise: Hotai

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Overall car sales nationwide would shrink about 2.3 percent this year as consumers tend to reduce spending on big-ticket items during economic slowdowns, Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車) said yesterday.

The nation’s top vehicle vendor, cited softer economic growth worldwide and at home for its conservative forecast.

Economic risks are on the rise as US-China trade tensions, the UK’s Brexit plan and China’s hobbling economic expansion will likely dent global GDP growth, the company said.

“Because of the unfavorable factors, we are unlikely to have an optimistic outlook,” Hotai president Justin Su (蘇純興) told a media briefing in Taipei.

New car sales might drop to about 425,000 units this year, compared with 435,000 units last year, a second year of contraction, Su said.

Bucking the industry’s downtrend, Hotai, which distributes Toyota and Lexus vehicles, aims to increase its sedan sales this year by about 8.47 percent this year to 131,000 units — 110,000 Toyota and 21,000 Lexus vehicles.

The company last year sold 120,766 vehicles.

The company also aims to increase its market share to 30.8 percent, from 27.8 percent last year, Su said.

To stimulate sales, Hotai plans to launch revamps of Toyota RAV4 sports utility vehicle (SUV) and Altis sedan models next month.

The sales growth would also be driven by the new Lexus UX SUV, it said.

Su said he is confident overall that Hotai will see an annual profit growth this year, thanks to expansion in its car rental services and car financing and insurance businesses.

Hotai plans to grow its car rental service by adding the hybrid compact sedan Prius C to its fleet, Su said.

The company also plans to expand its rental services to include electric scooters in collaboration with a local motorcycle maker, he said.

Hotai Finance Co (和潤企業), a car loans and insurance service unit, is set to debut its shares on the main board in the fourth quarter this year.

In the first three quarters of last year, Hotai made NT$7.47 billion (US$242.29 million at the current exchange rate) in net profit, or earnings per share of NT$14.03.

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