Auto sector knocked out by gasoline shock

- SUMAN BASHYAL, Kathmandu

Oct 13, 2015-

The fuel shock has understandably hit the automobile sector the hardest, as nobody would want to buy a new car when you can’t get gasoline for love or money.

So very few potential customers were encountered on an inspection tour of automobile and motorcycle showrooms in Kathmandu on the eve of Dashain on Monday. Despite the rare enquiries about new vehicles, almost all the dealers have been trying to woo customers by launching schemes and offers.

On top of the gasoline shortage, auto dealers have seen their problems compounded because they have not been able to deliver vehicles booked by their customers, as they are stuck at various customs offices due to the long-running Tarai banda and blockade by India.

“We used to be so busy dealing with customers during this time of the year. We used to work till 10pm to deliver vehicles to customers. But this time, the flow of customers is very low, and we have not been able to deliver the vehicles bought by customers to their homes for lack of fuel,” said Niranjan Regmi, sales manager of the Ford showroom at Thapathali.

Likewise, Bhawan Bhatta, sales executive of the CG showroom at Thapathali, said, “During the festival season, people would be all excited about buying new vehicles; and all eight to nine staffers would be hard pressed to handle the rush, so we had to recruit interns. But this year, we are enjoying leisure time during the peak season.”  

Prabin Khatiwada, head of the passenger vehicles business unit at Sipradi Trading, the authorised distributor of Tata in Nepal, said that the fuel problem had badly affected customer buying sentiment.

“We haven’t seen any bookings for the last two weeks after fuel started to become scarce. Only old customers who have booked vehicles are coming to the showroom for enquiries,” he said. The company has targeted selling 500 vehicles during the September-November peak season.

“We had targeted a 20 percent growth during this year’s festival season, but we fear that it won’t be possible due to this crisis,” said Rupesh Sharma Bhatta, assistant general manager of sales and marketing at Laxmi Intercontinental, the authorised distributor of Hyundai in Nepal.

Devashish Biwas, assistant general manager - marketing at Pooja International, the authorised distributor of Volkswagen in Nepal, said that they were in a wait-and-watch mode.

“Although it is the Dashain festival, there is little excitement among customers. Moreover, we have not been able to deliver vehicles to customers who have booked them,” he said. “We can only hope that the current problem will be sorted out soon, and we will do better during the second biggest festival Tihar.”

Two-wheeler dealers have the same sentiments. “Many customers wait for the festive season to buy vehicles as they get Dashain bonuses, and dealers also offer discounts and schemes targeting festive buyers. But the fuel shortage has made potential buyers put their plans on hold,” said Punam Singh, head of marketing at HH Bajaj, the authorised distributor of Bajaj in Nepal.

Similarly, Nepal General Marketing, the authorised distributor of Hero, said that they expected to see minus growth instead of achieving their sales target. “We used to sell 5,000-6,000 bikes during this period, but overall sales have reached 1,500 units since we launched the festive scheme last month,” said Dinesh Ratna Bajracharya, head of Hero bikes at the company.

Published: 13-10-2015 09:38

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