Sunday, July 23, 2017 - 17:56:50

Motorcycle makers try to revive market

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While motorcycle dealers bemoan the slowest sales in a decade, manufacturers are busy since the beginning of this year, introducing new models in the hope of triggering a revival.

Japanese-funded Honda Vietnam seems to be the busiest motorcycle manufacturer introducing four new models and face-lifts including PCX 125 and Wave 110 RSX Fi in January, Air Blade in March and Future in June.

Honda's compatriot, Yamaha Vietnam, followed with the all new Nozza Grande scooter, which was introduced earlier this month. Earlier, in May, the Hanoi-based motorcycle manufacturer also launched Exciter 2014 and Sirius Fi 2014, two face-lifts replacing its earlier models.

Also in May, the company introduced the all new Jupiter Fi Grativa 2014 to replace its best selling Jupiter model.

Piaggio Vietnam, a subsidiary of European largest scooter maker Piaggio, has introduced Liberty Restyling 2014 model, targeting high income earners.

The model has been advertised as "having new features but sold with the old price". The pricing policy of the manufacturer aims to attract more customers.

In April, the Italian bike maker rolled out the new Vespa Sprint, a "sportier" version of the new Primavera scooter that the company introduced in Vietnam last November.

Smaller players like Taiwanese SYM earlier this year launched Attila Elizabeth Smart Idle scooter, while Italian scooter maker Lambretta marketed the Lamsport for Men.

However, motorcycle dealers seem to be unmoved by the efforts of manufacturers to trigger a revival in the market, saying it was meaningless in the context of weak demand.

"I could not understand why Yamaha Vietnam introduced so many new models at this time, when demand was at its lowest " said Pham Manh Sy, Director of the Viet Phu Company, a prominent motorcycle dealer in Hanoi.

"This has been the worst year since I started the business 15 years ago. I am thinking about closing down the dealership and turning it into some other business," he told Vietnam News – the national English language daily published by Vietnam News Agency.

He said he felt lost before he came back from Ho Chi Minh City, where Yamaha Vietnam invited its dealers nationwide to have a short holiday held in conjunction with the launching of Yamaha Nozza Grande.

Most motorcycle dealers are suffering like Sy with some of them having already closed their dealerships.

"The more they (manufacturers) introduce new models, the less time we have to end the business," said a representative from a Honda dealer in Hanoi, who wished to remain anonymous.

He said motorcycles are just piling up in his company.

"Previously, we could sell around 300 motorcycles a month. But in recent months it has dropped to 2 or 3, resulting in a loss of 200 million VND (9,524 USD) a month," he added.

Manufacturers, however, seem optimistic about the future.

CEO of Piaggio Vietnam, Costantino Sambuy, in a recent talk with the media, said that the motorcycle market in Vietnam is growing by 8 percent annually. It is believed that the demand for scooters will increase further in the future, as per capita income increases to 2,600 USD per annum by 2017.

Meanwhile, Honda Vietnam has put into operation a piston workshop worth 230 billion VND after completing construction of its third factory.

According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), motorcycle manufacturers in Vietnam produced 1.85 million motorcycles in the first seven months of the year, down by 13 percent over the corresponding period last year. However, in its report released on July 28, GSO did not mention the number of two-wheelers sold in the period.

Vietnam's motorcycle market, the fourth-largest in the world, has shown signs of saturation, with annual output having exceeded demand, prompting producers in the Southeast Asian country to speed up their exports to other markets.

With motorcycle sales totalling 3.1 million units last year, Vietnam is the fourth largest motorcycle market, after China, India and Indonesia.

But motorcycle sales in Vietnam have started to decline largely due to a slowdown in the country's economic growth. Last year's growth was up 5.03 percent over 2011, the slowest pace in 13 years.

Motorcycles are the most common means of transport in Vietnam, which has a population of 90 million and 37 million registered motorcycles, while the number of cars is just around two million.-VNA
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