Vehicle registrations in April remained almost unchanged from the highs it reached in March, the vehicle registrations data compiled by JB Securities, a Colombo-based equity brokerage, showed.
JB Securities Managing Director Murtaza Jafferjee termed the development “a commendable statistic,” as April achieved the high number despite it having five less working days than March due to extensive holidays. Sri Lanka registered an unsustainable 40,428 vehicles in holiday-shorted April, little changed from 42,467 units registered in March, showed the vehicle registrations data compiled by JB Securities. Two-wheels and small motorcars, often with 600 CC to 800 CC engine capacities, keep the monthly vehicle registration numbers high. From the total registrations, 29,855 units were motorbikes and motorbike registrations have hovered around 30,000 level for so many years.
Sri Lanka’s monthly vehicle registrations are a close proxy for monthly vehicle imports.
Meanwhile, motorcar registrations recorded 5,190 units in April, little down from 5,929 units in March, but more than doubled from 2,502 units 12 months ago.
Brand new cars accounted for 860 units in April down from 1,066 units in March and marginally up from 808 units 12 months ago.
Meanwhile small cars—the alternative of Sri Lanka’s middle-class for the lack of proper public transport system—dominated the motorcar segment with 87.2 percent share.
The current coalition came into power in 2015 promising a small car to every family in the country.
However, the situation has now gone out of hand and most of Colombo’s roads remain jammed even during off-peak hours. Some of the first time motorcar owners also pay scant regard to road rules, making the situation worse.
This adds to the unruly three-wheelers and both private and state-owned buses, who are a nightmare to law-abiding drivers on Sri Lankan roads.
Many opine that while proving his/her ability to drive a vehicle, it is now becoming extremely important that a driver should undergo a mental aptitude test so his/her roadworthiness could be ascertained.
Sri Lanka’s vehicle fleet more than doubled in just three years and now every one in three persons is estimated to own a vehicle. But the expansion of the road network has miserably failed to catch up with this pace.
But Sri Lanka’s free market thinkers cry foul over recent curbs on vehicle imports—which did very little to arrest the matter—arguing that those curbs violate the individual liberties of a one who aspires to own a three-wheeler.
Still Sri Lanka registers 1, 500 three-wheelers a month, down from closer to 15,000 units a month when the vehicle imports reached an all time high in 2015.
To put the numbers in to perspective there were close to 15,000 motorcars registered in September 2015 when the numbers reached an all time highs in a single month.
The new Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s maiden budget, touted as green and eco-friendly, gave incentives to increase the fleet of electric vehicles in the country by gradually phasing out the gasoline-run fleet.
But it seems that much need to change as only nine electric cars were registered in April down from 14 units in March and 16 units 12 months ago.
Meanwhile, 189 units of premium branded cars were registered in April, down from 222 units in March and significantly up from 50 units recorded 12 months ago.
Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) recorded 405 units, down from 544 units in March and marginally down from 426 units 12 months ago.
The large number of high-end vehicles in Sri Lanka is a testament to massive inequality in the country although Sri Lanka’s has improved its poverty levels.