Price hikes advanced for imported European cars

Dec 26, 2003 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Auto Parts and Accessories Ι By Quincy, CENS
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Taipei, Dec. 26, 2003 (CENS)--The lingering appreciation of the euro against the U.S. dollar is jacking up the import costs for local importers of European cars, forcing them to hike their prices in January next year, earlier than originally scheduled.

Most local auto importers predicted that the euro would maintain its strength next year and more or less affect the sales volumes of imported cars in Taiwan.

The Universal-Pan Germany Organization, the local agent of BMW, Porsch, Rolls Royce, Bently and Citroen brand cars, would be the first to hike the prices of imported BMW and Mini car models in January 2004, about two months ahead of the original schedule.

According to Universal-Pan Germany, it will jack up the prices of imported BMW and Mini car models by NT$40,000 to NT$300,000 (US$1,173 to US$8,798 at US$1:NT$34.1), including a hike of NT$120,000 to NT$150,000 (US$3,519 to US$4,399) for the new BMW 5-seies models and NT$40,000 to NT$200,000 (US$1,173 to US$5,865) for the BMW 3-series. All of the prices for Mini car models would be boosted by NT$60,000 (US$1,760), the company said, making the price for the entry-level Mini One model break the NT$1 million mark (US$29,325).

Universal-Pan Germany said that it was very reluctant to adjust upward the car prices but is forced to do so to reflect the increasingly high cost before the Chinese New Year sales peak.

DaimlerChrysler Taiwan (DCT), the local agent of imported Mercedes-Benz, Smart, Chrysler and Jeep, said that the exchange rate of the euro against the New Taiwan dollar has been rising from about 1:38 to 1:43 and the euro appreciation trend is expected to last for a certain period of time next year.

DCT has yet to decide on whether to hike prices in January, and will make a final decision soon after a final coordination between the company's financial and sales departments.

A local car importer said that the sales volumes of most luxury European car brands fell short of local agents' original expectations due to the strong euro, though the total sales volume of imported cars in Taiwan grew from last year.

Taikoo Automotive Group, the local agent of imported Volkswagen (VW), Audi and Kia cars as well as Volvo trucks and buses, said that it has raised the price of its 2004 A4 1.8T model by NT$30,000 (US$880) recently to reflect the increasing import costs and would hike the prices of other models soon. Beldare Ltd., the local agent of imported VW cars, has announced that it would raise the prices after the Chinese New Year holiday ends in late January 2004.
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