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Demand for motorcycles revs up for the New Year

Demand for motorcycles revs up for the New Year

Vendors see increased sales of new bikes as festivities begin.

DEMAND for new motorcycles has rebounded in the months leading into the New Year, though sales of second-hand bikes remains stagnant, dealers and retailers said Monday.

“I think people are starting to spend more on modern things, like buying brand new motorcycles, because most of them think our economy has recovered,” said Vouch Lay, a Suzuki dealer in Phnom Penh.

“They aren’t limiting their spending like they did last year. Especially in the last two months – most of them [made purchases] to welcome the New Year.”

Vouch Lay said she was selling between 50 and 60 motorcycles per month in the first quarter, a bump up from the 30 or 40 she sold in the final months of 2009.

However, that number was not even close to her sales in 2008, when she sold 1,000 bikes – compared to 300 total in 2009.

She had not lowered prices, she said, and was struggling to make enough to cover operating expenses.

“I hope this year will be good for us,” she said.

Lay Hout, whose eponymous store sells Honda motorcycles in the capital, said he was selling seven or eight new bikes a day, whereas during the same period last year, he could move only two or three a day.

“For the first three months of this year, sales have been good,” he said. “I’ve seen demand for new motorcycles surge from late last year until now.”

Lay Hout said he had dropped about US$20 from a price tag of $1,550 on new Hondas, having sold more than 1,000 bikes in 2009.

Lay Hout, too, said sales climbed thanks to the New Year – the end of a demand period that typically runs from November to April.

Reports from shops indicate that the interest in secondhand motorcycles remains flat.

“I think that this year, we’ve seen an increase in demand for brand-new ones, but for secondhand it’s still not good yet,” said Sok Phalra, owner of Japan Motorcycles, who sells new and used bikes.

Prices for new bikes are sliding, making them more tempting for buyers, he said.

“I don’t dare say whether my sales are better or not compared to last year,” he added.

Secondhand motorcycle sales for Sok Hy, who runs his own shop on Sihanouk Boulevard, have not recovered from 2008.

“Most buyers now prefer to buy brand new ones rather than secondhand motorcycles, because the price is nearly comparable,” he said, adding that he expected better sales in the second quarter once potential customers were finished farming.

A slump in motorcycle sales delayed the construction of an $11.5 million Yamaha plant in 2008, pending a recovery in the market.

Yamaha officials said they would consider coming back in 2011 if market conditions improved in Cambodia.

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