Automobile dealers have postponed new launches slated for the May-June period following the April 25 earthquake and aftershocks. Although many vehicle sellers have reopened their showrooms with life in the valley slowly returning to normal, they said that business was still slow. They said it would take two-three months for the automobile sector to return to business as usual.
Sipradi Trading, authorised distributor of Tata Motors in Nepal, has postponed the unveiling of its Bolt hatchback till July. It was originally scheduled to be launched in May. Volkswagen’s authorised distributor Pooja International was planning to roll out the Scirocco sports car by April-end; but after the earthquake, the company has put it off. Honda’s authorised distributor Syakar Trading has also deferred the launching of the Honda CRV.
Meanwhile, Hyundai and Maruti Suzuki, among other companies, said that they had no plans to launch new vehicles soon as business had ground to a halt.
“The whole country is in grief, so we can’t even think of launching new cars for at least two-three months,” said Karan Choudhari, executive director of CG MotoCorp, the authorised distributor of Maruti Suzuki cars in Nepal. “Motor vehicles are a secondary thing for people, their first priority is to rebuild or repair their houses damaged by the quake.”
The company has set up a Post-Trauma Care Centre in the valley to take care of earthquake-damaged cars. Choudhari said that they were busy planning strategies to promote sales in regions untouched by the tremor. The Kathmandu valley accounts for 60 percent of the total car sales in the country. As automobiles come under the category of luxury items in Nepal, people’s focus on basic necessities is expected to hit business. Traders said people were not in the mood to purchase automobile at a time of crisis.
“Although there have been no reports of auto showrooms being damaged, car sales were down around 90 percent last month,” said Gopi Neupane, general secretary of the Nepal Automobiles Dealers’ Association (NADA). “As the national mood is gloomy, even people living in regions not affected by the quake are not buying vehicles.”
Similarly, Assistant General Manager (Sales and Marketing) Rupesh Sharma Bhatta of Laxmi Intercontinental, the authorised distributor of Hyundai, said that Hyundai’s sales had plunged 50 percent following the quake. “We had planned to launch a new vehicle by the end of May, but the earthquake changed our plans. However, we are hopeful that the market will return to normal in two-three months,” he added.
Prabin Khatiwada, head of the passenger vehicle business unit at Sipradi Trading, the authorised distributor of Tata in Nepal, said that sales had dropped sharply following the quake.
“We sold around 70 units last month, and we hope that sales will start to increase in the days to come,” he said.