New vehicle registrations in Taiwan rose by 162.8% year-on-year in December to 44,977 units, according to data released by the Ministry of Transport, as buyers rushed into the market in anticipation of the year-end withdrawal of government subsidies.

Market leader Hotai Motor, Toyota's sole distributor, sold 18,265 vehicles in December - for a market share of over 40% - way ahead of its nearest rivals Yulon Nissan, China Motor (Mitsubishi), Taiwan Honda and Ford Lio Ho.

The government incentives were introduced at the beginning of 2009 and were worth TWD 30,000 (USD 944) on purchases of new cars under 2000cc. This helped the market bounce back from a multi-decade low in 2008. Total vehicle sales, including commercial vehicles, rose by 28.3% to 294,423 in 2009, compared with just over 230,000 units in 2008. The industry is optimistic that the positive momentum can be maintained, with consumer confidence continuing to improve.

Tony Pugliese