Hotai to sell first locally made hybrid automobile

RECORD GROWTH::Taiwan will become the sixth country to produce energy-saving hybrid cars for Japanese parent Toyota, as the market stays buoyant

Staff Writer, with CNA

Thu, Feb 09, 2012 - Page 11

Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), the Taiwanese sales agent for Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp, is scheduled to unveil the nation’s first locally-produced hybrid car on Thursday next week, demonstrating the country’s domestic production ability, Hotai president Justin Su (蘇純興) said yesterday.

Toyota, the world’s No. 1 automaker, is already making hybrids in five other countries outside Japan, including the US, the UK, Australia, Thailand and China. The Toyota Camry Hybrid model will make Taiwan the sixth foreign country in which the Japanese company is producing hybrids, Su said.

Hotai sold 119,425 cars last year, a record high since 2005, registering an annual growth rate of 17.6 percent, which was above the growth rate of total national car sales.

A total of 378,291 new cars were registered in the country last year, up 15.5 percent from the previous year.

Despite anticipated demand from the replacement of old vehicles and the purchase of energy-saving cars using advanced technology, Su said he expects a domestic market of about 360,000 units this year.

Hotai will introduce a total of 13 new models to the local market this year, with six from Toyota and seven from its luxury brand, Lexus. The company will also hire about 1,000 new employees this year to expand sales outlets and increase market share, vice president Liu Yuan-sheng (劉源森) said.

Hotai shares rose by the daily limit to close at NT$168.5 yesterday.

Yulon Group (裕隆集團) shares also staged a rally yesterday after the Taiwanese automaking conglomerate gave an optimistic sales forecast for its car manufacturing division for this year, dealers said.

Many investors have high hopes that the group’s intensive efforts to penetrate the huge Chinese market will pay off and serve as a growth driver for its auto business, they said.

Shares of Yulon Motor Co (裕隆汽車) — the group’s flagship company — rose 3.14 percent to NT$62.50, China Motor Corp (中華汽車) shares gained 6.83 percent to NT$33.65 and Yulon Nissan Motor Co (裕隆日產) shares added 6.84 percent to NT$211.00.

Yulon Motor president Chen Kuo-rong (陳國榮) said on Tuesday that the group’s auto division is expected to generate NT$350 billion (US$11.8 billion) in sales this year, compared with NT$280 billion last year.

Chen said the group expects to sell 123,000 cars in Taiwan this year, up from 114,000 units sold last year, and it aims to sell about 157,000 cars in China, including 40,000 of its Luxgen brand, which targets the high-end market.

MasterLink Securities (元富證券) said the Yulon Group is expected to continue launching new models this year to further boost buying interest and said the group plans to recruit about 1,700 new employees to support its business expansion.