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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Toyota sales drop 50pc

Toyota sales drop 50pc

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A car dealer selling Toyota vehicles on the corner of Monivong Boulevard and Russian Boulevard in Phnom Penh. Sales of the Japanese carmaker have dropped up to 50 percent in Cambodia, dealers said. HENG CHIVOAN

70%

Cambodian demand for Toyotas as a percentage of overall vehicle demand
Toyota is the most popular vehicle brand in Cambodia, making up the majority of the 2,800 new and 20,000 used vehicles sold on average every year.

SALES of Toyota automobiles were down by as much as 50 percent in January compared with a year earlier, with the president of Cambodia's sole Toyota distributor said, warning that an ongoing sector-wide sales slump could last until at least 2011.

"We forecast that the drop will last at least two or three years due to the [global financial] crisis," said Kong Nuon, president of TTHK Co Cambodia.

He declined to disclose the number of vehicles sold over the month or for last year.

However, in November he told the Post the company had sold only 1,200 vehicles in the calendar year to date, down on its full-year target of 2,000 cars.

Kong Nuon estimated that demand for new cars in Cambodia was about 2,800 per year on average - of which 70 percent were Toyotas - and that an additional 20,000 secondhand cars are sold annually.

Ngorn Saing, deputy general manager of RM Asia, Cambodia's second-largest automobile importer, said Monday that sales of Ford automobiles were down 30 percent in January compared with 2007.

The company hoped to withstand the slowdown by increasing options for customers.

"Because of the impact of the crisis on car sales, this year we have imported a wider variety of cars to provide an alternative for customers and sustain our sale growth," he said.

"We expect sales this year to be the same as last year." The company had targeted sales of 500 last year but had fallen short at 450 units, he said.

Customs Director Pen Siman said last week that imports of automobiles and spare parts dropped two-thirds in January this year compared with January 2008.

Kang Chandararot, president of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said that the drop in automobile sales was caused by a downturn in property sales.

The two sectors were traditionally closely linked, he said, with people often using profits from land sales for major buys like cars.

"With the global crisis and a recession in Cambodia's real estate market, it is impossible for auto sales to increase next year," he said.

A loss of confidence in the property sector has seen sales of land plummet to almost zero, analysts say.

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