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New-car Sales in Taiwan Hit 8-year High in 2013

Jan 09, 2014 | By Quincy Liang

Thanks to strong sales in the second half of 2013, especially in December, new-car sales in Taiwan totaled 378,456 units last year, reversing the downtrend in the first half with a 3.4% increase by the end of the year, with the volume also being an 8-year high.

Most auto vendors and distributors are optimistic about continuing rise in demand in the first few months of 2014,  predicting the overall 2014 volume to challenge 400,000 units.

In 2013, Hotai Motor Co. Ltd., the local Toyota agent, was the biggest winner with a market share of 33.6%, while keeping its No. 1 position for the 12th consecutive year. The No. 2 place was held by Yulon Nissan Motor Co., the Nissan agent, which took the highest ranking in the domestic market for the first time in the past 10 years by replacing affiliate China Motor Corp. (CMC), the local assembler and agent of Mitsubishi.

New-car sales varied in each quarter of 2013 in Taiwan, including strong demand in the first quarter, sudden slowdown due to consumers' anticipating falling car prices resulting from sharp depreciation of the Japanese yen, surging market in the third quarter thanks to automakers and vendors' sales campaigns, and better-than-expected strong demand in the final quarter driven by new model launches.

Highlights in the fourth quarter of 2013 were the remodeled Toyota Altis and Nissan Sentra sedans, sales of which have been increasing since their launch in October to lead to an overall market volume of about 39,000 units, a 12% month-on-month (MoM) and 13% year-on-year (YoY) increases, respectively.

According to automakers, December showed stronger than past demand for new cars, implying certain demand increase amid local consumers. The simmering new-car demand was also proven at the 2013 new-car show held in year-end, in which the order volume is estimated to grow 20% to 30% from the previous year's.

Both Yulon Group, distributor of Nissan, Mitsubishi, Renault, LUXGEN etc., and Hotai have expressed optimism toward sales in 2014. A Hotai executive said that though there are many economic uncertainties ahead, demand from replacement purchases in Taiwan is still quite strong, urging the government to provide more incentives for scrapping old cars to stimulate the domestic automobile market and enhance eco-protection.

Imported Cars Up 18%In addition to achieving a eight-year-high sales volume in 2013, Taiwan's automobile market also hit a new record last year: a 29.2% market share by  imported cars, which has not been seen for a few decades.

The biggest winners amid  imports were undoubtedly Mercedes-Benz and BMW, two traditionally popular brands on the island, whose sales outstripped original goals of 2013, helping drive up the overall market.

Statistics compiled by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) show that some 111,000 imported cars were sold in Taiwan last year, for an obvious annual growth of 18%.

Mercedes-Benz Taiwan successfully utilized its strategy to focus on promoting the entry-level A-, B- and CLA series in the first half of 2013, also launching  many new E and S-class models. The company sold about 16,700 Mercedes, higher than its original goal of 15,000 units, maintaining its lead amid import brands in Taiwan for the fifth year in a row.

BMW's sales in the first half of 2013 were dampened by Mercedes-Benz's entry-level models, but the brand's local agent Pan German Motors Ltd. countered by pushing the 4-, 5-, L7- and X5 models to expand product lineup in the second half. By year-end, some 14,500 BMWs were sold, higher than its original goal of 14,000 units.

Facing a supply shortage from Japan, local agent Hotai sold 10,721 imported Lexus in 2013, also being optimistic about sales growth of at least 10% in 2014 driven by a dealership  expansion project kicked off from 2013.

Volvo Car Taiwan won the No. 4 position by selling 4,371 units, compared to 4,109 units sold by the No. 5 Audi Taiwan. The two imported brands have announced sales goals of 4,500 to 5,000 units in 2014.

Porsche, while regarded a niche-market brand, in 2013 sold 2,000 units in Taiwan. Its launch of the more-affordable Macan sport utility vehicle (SUV) will likely push  sales of Porsches on the island.


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