Toyota dealers nudge buyers toward choosing new cars
TOYOTA dealers trying to sell new vehicles are hamstrung by the brand’s success in Myanmar, which has left a huge pool of used cars for buyers to choose from.
Second-hand Toyotas are the vehicles of choice in much of Myanmar, and people rarely buy used cars from other brands. But this popularity means that the toughest competition facing the country’s Toyota dealers is not rival brands, but used Toyotas.
This was already putting a damper on demand even before recent regulatory restrictions on importing new cars, which has further depressed appetite, said U Myo Myint Thein, general manager at Toyota Aye and Sons.
“To be frank, the current situation is not convenient,” he said. “The customers are holding off on buying brand-new Toyotas.”
A recent tax increase on importing new cars has pushed up prices across Myanmar, and in Yangon imports also require a parking permit letter, which the local government has made it very difficult to acquire.
This has seen demand from Yangon customers crumble, but U Myo Myint Thein is hoping interest from buyers in other cities and regions will help pick up the slack.
Catering to buyers in places without parking permit restrictions could help boost sales, but U Myo Myint Thein fears getting rid of vehicles already pledged to Yangon buyers waiting for a change in the system or policy.
Although Toyota dealers face the additional problem of fighting against a pool of used cars of the same brand, they are not alone in coping with dropping demand from Yangon – the country’s largest car market.
An official at a Ford dealer in Yangon said that he was relying entirely on demand from other states and regions.
“It’s not just Ford,” he said. “All sale centres and showrooms are facing the same difficulty. But we understand the government, and there is a reason [they are pursuing this policy].”
Hundreds of thousands of new cars were imported under the former government, mostly ending up on the streets of Yangon and leading to serious congestion and traffic problems.
‘’The government should create enough space for car parking and that will have an impact on traffic,” said U Myo Myint Thein. “Then if there is no more traffic, there is no need to get [ownership approvals] from township administrators.”
Last year, 150,000 vehicles were imported to Myanmar. Among them, only 4000 units were brand-new. From January to April this year, 32,000 units were imported with 1200 of them brand-new, according to the Authorised Automobile Distribution Association.
Interested parties (right) examine a new Toyota Corolla at a showroom in Yangon.