Local dealers blame economic crisis – and particularly fall in property sector – for dismal first six months' sales figures
VEHICLE distributors gave a bleak assessment of the state of the industry Tuesday, with most saying there is no sign sales will pick up before the end of 2010.
Sales are down by around half in the six months to June 30, with the decline blamed on the depressed real estate market, dealers said.
Kong Nuon, president of TTHK, which holds the exclusive licence to distribute new Toyotas in the Kingdom, declined to tell the Post how many vehicles his firm sold in the first six months.
"The Toyota brand dropped 40 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year," he said.
The global economic crisis had damaged the property sector, he added, and because most car buyers were spending profits from land sales, that had in turn damaged vehicle sales.
Toyota is the brand leader in the Kingdom's new-vehicle market, selling 1,100 automobiles last year.
Kong Nuon expects to sell just 750 vehicles this year and predicted that demand next year will be 40 percent down on 2008.
He said 2,800 new vehicles of all brands were sold last year, but expects demand to be half that this year.
The drop in sales outstrips in percentage terms the predicted global fall in Toyota sales made by the Japanese firm at an April press conference when it said it expects global sales will drop 14 percent to 6.5 million vehicles this year.
Other dealers were also gloomy. Seng Voeung, division manager of Ford dealership RM Asia, told the Post that sales of Fords - for which the year's target was 500 units - are down one-fifth.
"The situation is quite different from early last year - these days when we demonstrate cars to potential customers, they say they are interested but have no cash to buy because their money is tied up in investments such as land and housing," he said.
Seng Voeung predicted that the stagnant real estate market would lead to a 30 percent drop in Ford sales next year.
The country's third-biggest brand, Mitsubishi, has been hit even harder than its two larger rivals.
Ou Vannarith, the business development officer for Mitsu (Cambodia) Co Ltd, which distributes Mitsubishi locally, also blamed the property market.
"Sales dropped up to 70 percent in the first semester compared to the same period last year," he said, although he declined to reveal how many vehicles the firm had sold. "And sales are likely to drop further in the second half of this year and next year."
He said the firm was struggling to sell to private individuals, so was now targeting companies, NGOs and embassies.
Horn Seam, representative of SsangYong's distributor, Huotraco Automotive, which imports the Korean brand, said times were tough even though the company's vehicles had been for sale in the country for just two years.
"Last year was successful - we met our target to sell 100 vehicles and set the same sales target for this year. However, we have reached only half of the target," he said. "We forecast the automobile market will continue to drop but should recover late next year or early 2011."