Banking on rising local demand for new vehicles and the government’s desire to limit imports of used cars, Japanese carmaker Isuzu is planning to expand its presence in the kingdom after entering the local market in June last year.
Toshiaki Maekawa, president of Tri Petch Isuzu, a Bangkok-based Isuzu dealer, told Khmer Times that they have great confidence in the local market and that they are planning to open two new showrooms in the kingdom.
“In addition to the one in Phnom Penh, we want to open new showrooms in Siem Reap and Battambang to tap the many opportunities in these cities,” said Mr Maekawa.
“If the market continues on the same great trajectory, we may open even more showrooms in the future,” he said.
Mr Maekawa says his expectations on the local market are heightened by the government’s recent announcement that it will put measures in place to reduce the amount of second-hand cars flowing into the country.
The director of the General Department of Customs and Excise, Kun Nhem, said last month that the government is considering increasing the amount of tax levied on used car imports. The move is aimed at encouraging Cambodians to buy new cars, which he says are safer and more environmentally-friendly.
“We don’t have any concrete strategy in mind yet, but we are considering limiting the amount of old cars that can be imported into the country.
“We won’t ban any models. The idea is simply to raise taxes for cars manufactured before the year 2,000,” he said, adding that the move “will stop grey dealers from bringing very old cars into the country that can pose a safety hazard and a risk to the environment.”
Mr Nhem said that government is offering a 50 percent tax cut for manufacturer that import auto parts separately and assemble them in the country to create a final product, a form of manufacturing known as completely knocked down or CKD.
Isuzu’s Mr Maekawa says the buoyant economy and bright outlook is motivating Cambodians to buy brand new products, but that they remain humble in their expectations.
“It will take some time for us to gain customer’s confidence. We continue to upgrade our sales and after-sales services, even sending teams from Thailand to train our local staff and encouraging our Cambodian mechanics to go to Thailand to be trained.
According to Mr Maekawa, Isuzu now accounts for six percent of the market in the SUV category and has a three percent market share in pickup trucks.
Cambodia imports 6,000 new and used cars per month, with new cars accounting for roughly 15 percent of total imports, Mr Nhem said.