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Motorcycle sales steering toward cheaper options

A group of motorcyclists navigate an intersection in Phnom Penh last year.
A group of motorcyclists navigate an intersection in Phnom Penh last year. Vireak Mai

Motorcycle sales steering toward cheaper options

Cambodian sales of mid-range motorcycles, between 125 and 1000cc, has seen a sharp decline this year, as there has been an increase in competing brands and customers are now preferring to buy cheaper motorcycles, according to distributors in Phnom Penh.

Rong Chantha, marketing manager at OMC Group, which imports both big and small motorbikes, said his company started importing bigger motorcycles this year, but sales have not been good because of increased competition in the market.

“[Customers] have changed their preference over time. In the past, they preferred manual transmission, bigger motorbikes, but now they want automatic transmission smaller motorcycles,” he said.

Since February, he said his company has sold between 50 and 60 units, which is lower than their target of more than 100 units for the first year of operation. OMC Group’s imports include Suzuki XSX Gixxer 150cc, which costs $2,850, and the Suzuki Raider 125cc, which can be bought for $2,600.

“When we planned to [import], we hoped that it would go well with the bigger motorcycle [market], but when we started importing the situation changed and we did not expect it,” he added.

However, the sale of small motorcycles had increased about 30 per cent to 20,000 units, when compared to the same period last year, with Chantha attributing this to easily available financing options.

That Sovann, the sales supervisor for Aprilia Cambodia, an Italian high-end motorcycle, said his company’s sales were lower than expected, but this was because of low brand awareness among customers.

“Our company’s brand is really new in Cambodia. Not many customers know of it,” he said.

The glut in the big motorcycle market, which are costlier, has resulted in his company selling only 60 units so far this year, far lower than the 1,000 units they expected to sell. Aprilia Cambodia currently imports four models ranging from 125 to 1000cc and costing between $2,000 and $20,000 per unit.

However, the long-established Yamaha Motor Cambodia has seen a 20 per cent increase in motorcycle sales to more than 1,000 units this year. Seang Tola, commercial general manager at Yamaha, said the opportunity to provide customers with a low-cost financing option has helped boost sales, especially among younger customers.

“Previously, if a costumer wanted to have a Yamaha FZ, they needed to have $3,000 in hand, but now with only $300 to $400, the customer can ride out with a bike,” Tola said.

He said that Yamaha Finance provides financing options with interest rates ranging from zero to around 1 per cent, depending on the kind of motorbikes.

Contrary to other brands, Tola said the sale of small motorbike brands declined slightly this year, but that was because the company has decided to focus on selling more expensive and bigger motorcycles.

According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, there were 284,000 motorbikes registered in 2014, an increase of 15.9 per cent compared to 2013.

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