A total of 19,495 new vehicles were sold in Taiwan in May, representing a decline of 30% year-on-year.

A report in the Taipei Times said the fall was as a result of rising gasoline prices.

Hotai Motor Co , the nations largest automaker and distributor of Toyota and Lexus models, sold approximately 6,900 vehicles last month, down 27% from a year ago.

The surge in oil prices also led to the rise in other commodity prices, which resulted in weaker willingness to consume, Hotai spokesman Steve Yang told the newspaper.

Yang also said the decline in vehicle sales was not a new or temporary trend but had begun in 2006. Moreover, as the auto market is expected to continue to slowdown in the second half of this year, Yang estimated that sales of new vehicles would fall to between 280,000 units and 290,000 units this year.

The report added that JP Morgan Securities (Taiwan) Ltd forecast last month that domestic auto sales could drop to 270,000 units this year.

China Motor Corp, Taiwan's second-largest automaker, said the decline in its vehicle sales last month was mild compared with domestic rivals, although the increase in oil prices had also affected its sales.

The company predicted that the overall market will see sales of between 260,000 and 280,000 units this year. China Motor said it sold some 700 Outlander SUVs last month, the second month that the Outlander has placed as the countrys best-selling SUV. The company sold 1,058 Outlanders in April, the newspaper reported.