|77,000 Corolla cars were made in Taiwan during 2017|
Australia had a car manufacturing industry but protection was gradually dismantled and it recently folded. Taiwan, like so many Asian nations, persist with the tariffs and retain their industry. Which is correct? There is no doubt protection works but in smaller markets like Taiwan, this limits genuine choice for the average car buyer as the price is always an important factor. China continues with trade barriers when it clearly is no longer required other than to help create a huge trade surplus.
In Taiwan's case, without imports being restricted, domestic car making would end. The numbers are too low for vehicle manufacturing to be sustainable in an open market. So the Taiwanese people are paying more for cars to preserve the industry.
Overview: Numerically this is the third consecutive decrease but it's hard to know if that is a trend that will continue. Historically the numbers have gone through this sort of thing before, then bounced back. Going below 300,000 as happened in 2017 is someway below the average for the past few decades, but it may come back.
Car: Toyota had over 50% of the total in 2016 but fell below that in 2017. Toyota exported 38,000 cars out of the 118,000 total but that number has dropped from a high in 2014, hence the recent decreases for that brand. Mazda cars were made by Ford but that arrangement has now finished. Hyundai and Kia share production.
Commercial: This area is holding up better than cars. It was down slightly in 2017 but apart from 2016, was the best year since 2008. The total is still small and well short of what was being manufactured some years back.
Data source: TVMA.
Summary: Is manufacturing at this level worth protecting? Taiwan is wealthy enough to manage without a small industry like this but that isn't the Asian way.