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Mixed results for local dealerships

Two men walk through a Ford dealership in Phnom Penh in July last year
Two men walk through a Ford dealership in Phnom Penh in July last year. One car dealer has said that car sales decreased by 60 per cent in 2013 from the previous year. Vireak Mai

Mixed results for local dealerships

The new year has brought with it a mixed outlook for the vehicle market, as dealers post both positive and negative sales figures for 2013.

Pily Wong, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen distributor Hung Hiep (Cambodia), said sales had been seriously affected by the Kingdom’s political turmoil following national elections in July.

Wong said in an interview earlier this month that the number of vehicles sold decreased by 60 per cent in 2013 from the previous year.

“At the beginning of the year, business was OK. But during the second half, while people began to prepare for the election and even after the election, business has been poor due to the mass demonstrations,” he said, referring to the opposition party’s rallies and marches to contest the results of the poll.

The luxury car dealer also said that lax government regulation on imports has posed unfair threats to legitimate business.

“Competition is not so dangerous for us when everybody plays by the same rules. We call it fair competition. What I worry about is an unfair one,” he said.

Sales for Toyota and Ford, meanwhile, are looking up. They expect another year of positive figures from Cambodia’s growing family vehicle market.

Kong Noun, chairman of Toyota Cambodia, said the carmaker saw a slight increase in sales over the past 12 months, reaching a total of 1,000 units sold. He estimates that figure to rise by 40 per cent to 1,400 units by next year. “Ninety per cent of the cars driven in Cambodia are used cars, but families are now tending to invest in new cars,” Noun said.

He did not specify which new models would enter the local market in the next 12 months.

Toyota’s promising Cambodian figures were not mirrored throughout Asia, however. The company posted a unit decrease of more than 60,000 across the region to hit 779,586 sales, according to the latest financial statements. Seng Voeung, motor vehicle division manager for RMA Cambodia, the country’s importer of Ford vehicles, shared Noun’s optimism for 2014, but said short supply hindered the company’s unit sales for last year. Voeung said RMA’s dealership sales increased by 30 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012.

“Demand for the Ford Ranger peaked last year,” he said. “So there was a shortage of supply for a short time; all the while the demand from Cambodia continued to increase. We do not have enough cars to sell to the customers,” he said.

Driven by Ranger and Focus model sales, Ford posted a seven per cent increase in sales across the ASEAN region for 2013, with an all-time record of 95,906 units sold.

ASEAN unit sales of the Thai-built Ranger jumped by 65 per cent to 45,508, while Focus sales rose by 21 per cent to 9,690 units.

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