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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Auto sales rebound in Q4, but it’s still a year to forget

Auto sales rebound in Q4, but it’s still a year to forget

Toyota’s sales have rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2009, but it has still been a forgettable year for the dealership with 40 percent fewer vehicles sold than a year earlier.

Dealers predict slow growth in 2010 as economy picks up speed.

NEW automobile sales rebounded in the fourth quarter, but not enough to make up for a massive drop in sales over the first nine months of the year, dealers say.

Even with an increase in vehicles sold from the third to fourth quarter, full-year sales were reportedly still down as much as 50 percent on 2008.

Kong Nuon, president of Toyota distributor TTHY Co, said he sold 180 Toyota vehicles from October to December, 20 percent more than in the previous three months and accounting for almost one-third of the company’s full-year sales.

Just 600 Toyota vehicles were sold over the year, 40 percent fewer than a year earlier, he said.

A slight recovery in the tourism industry and agricultural income were driving purchases. “It’s the harvest season, so many people have money from selling their harvest,” he said.

He predicted sales would stay the same next year “as the economic situation will not recover until well into 2010”.

Ford’s sales grew 5 percent from the third to the fourth quarter. It sold 105 vehicles in the last three months of the year, said Seng Voeung, Ford division manager for RM Asia, the official Cambodian distributor of the brand.

“After sales bottomed out in the third quarter, there has been an increase in recent months,” he said. Sales dropped 25 percent over the full year, with only 350 new automobiles reaching the streets, he said. Sales will likely grow at “a very slow pace” of 10 percent in 2010, he added.

South Korea’s Ssangyong Motor Co sold just 80 new vehicles this year, a 50 percent decline on 2008, said Horn Seam, a spokesman for local distributor Huotraco Automotive. “Most customers come to the showroom just to look at our cars, but they are not brave enough to spend money on them,” he said.

Nissan’s sales also fell 50 percent year on year, but there was no fourth-quarter resurgence, said Long Narith, managing director at domestic distributor Narita Motorcare Cambodia. “We have not seen a sales increase in the last quarter despite offering a discount of US$1,000 to $2,000 a car. It’s still comparable to our third-quarter results,” he said, declining to give figures.

“We expect the automobile market to grow gradually in 2010 as growth in the real estate market begins to generate business activity, but sales will still be slow-paced.



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