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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Car sales bottom out in Q3

Car sales bottom out in Q3

091008_10
A security guard walks across the forecourt Wednesday at TTHK, the official reseller of Toyotas in Cambodia. The company said sales have fallen 50 percent in the first nine months of 2009 year-on-year.

Dealers in the capital say new-vehicle sales stabilised from June to September compared to the second quarter, but that overall 2009 has been a tough year

DEALERS of new cars in Phnom Penh, including Toyota and Ford, said Wednesday that there were signs the market had bottomed out in the third quarter after what has been a hard year for the industry – with sales decline of about 50 percent compared to the first three quarters of last year.

Kong Nuon, president of TTHK Co Ltd, which imports vehicles built by Toyota, the largest manufacturer in the world by sales, said he sold about 150 new vehicles during the third quarter, about the same as the previous three months.

“We did not yet see a recovery in auto sales in the third quarter … over the second quarter, but it’s stable: It did not drop further,” he said, adding that sales had dropped by about half compared to the first ninth months of 2008.

He added that TTHK expected to sell between 550 and 600 new Toyotas in 2009, blaming the economic crisis for what is shaping up to be a huge decline in sales on last year.

“We hope to see a recovery from the end of next year,” Kong Nuon predicted, adding that he had kept prices stable.

Other international car manufacturers have fared little better in Cambodia this year, a trend that has been mirrored on a global scale.

Ford Division RM Asia Manager Seng Voeung said sales in the June-to-September quarter stayed at a similar level to the previous three months: around 100 vehicles, representing a decline of between 40 percent and 50 percent over the first nine months compared to the same period last year.

Like TTHK, he forecast that sales would not rebound until around 2011 due to the impact on the real estate market.

Lower economies of scale at production plants meant that wholesale prices remained inflated, and “thus we have not offered discounts”, he said.
Ssyangyong sales fell 45 percent in the first nine months year-on-year, said Horn Seam, representative of local distributor Huotraco Automotive. SsangYong, which entered Cambodia in 2007, saw the decline tail off in the past quarter, he said, but a recovery was not yet under way.

“We expect in the fourth quarter sales will recover at least 10 percent because new auto models for 2010 will go on sale,” said Horn Seam, adding that he had sold just 15 vehicles in the third quarter.

Nissan sales mirrored those of fellow Japanese brand Toyota in the first nine months, said Long Narith, managing director of domestic dealer Narita Motorcare Cambodia, following a decline of about 50 percent. Like other new car dealers, he said the situation stabilised in the third quarter.

He predicted that the sales situation would improve before the end of the year.

“We expect more sales in the last quarter because there are many [would-be] customers visiting and interested in buying,” said Long Narith, declining to give sales figures for the previous quarter.

Local Mitsubishi dealer Mitsui (Cambodia) Co Ltd Service Manager Lao Sak said that all new-car dealers were experiencing the same problems and therefore the same trend in sales on the back of the recent economic slump.

“If it drops, we drop together, and if it grows, we grow together,” he said, adding he had also seen a 50 percent decline up to the end of September compared to the first nine months of 2008.

Lao Sak declined to reveal the number of Mitsubishis sold during the period, but said the end of the rainy season and forthcoming harvest should spur a fourth-quarter revival.

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