Vehicle registrations for December 2015 declined both year-on-year (YoY) and compared to the past few months, as the number of letters of credit (LCs) opened may have declined over the uncertainty that prevailed discouraging importers.
A back and forth between Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and the Central Bank oversetting a maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio had resulted in different rates being published from September to November, until finalizing a 70 percent LTV ratio to come into effect on LCs opened after December 1.
Total vehicle registrations fell to 54,139 in December, compared to 56,861 YoY and 61,864 in November, a report by JB Securities (Pvt.) Ltd showed.
The December figures were the lowest since August 2015.
In the motor car segment, there were 7,177 registrations, increasing from 4,311 YoY but falling from 10,084 in November.
Brand-new car registrations increased to 5,015 from 1,939 YoY, but fell from 6,732 in November.
Small cars made up 95 percent of the volumes with Maruti accounting for 3,892, of which 3,512 were Altos, while Micro claimed 522 with Pandas. In the used car segment, volumes fell to 2,162 from 2,372 YoY and 3,352 in November.
Suzuki led the market with 789 registrations, of which 735 were WagonRs, while Toyota followed with 751, of which 297 were Aquas and 286 were Axios.
Registrations of premium brands fell to 69 from 99 YoY and 74 in November. There were 52 brand-new vehicles, with 26 Mercedes, broken down to seven C-class, 15 E-Class and three S-Class and 15 BMWs, of which there were seven from the 3-Series and six from the 5-Series. In the pre-owned premium segment, there were 17 registrations, with nine Mercedes and five BMWs. Registrations for electric cars were up to 242 from just 10 units YoY, but fell from 470 in November.
The Nissan Leaf kept the lead with 228 units, while the other 14 comprised of five Mitsubishi I Miev, four Mercedes B-Class, four BMW I3 and one Volkswagen eGolf. SUV registrations fell to 605 from 1,603 YoY and 806 in November.
Nissan took over the lead from November with 172 units while Mitsubishi fell into second place with 119 units of Outlanders and Monteros and Toyota followed with 87 units in the form of Prados and Harriers.
The hybrid segment recorded 2,221 units, significantly down from 3,649 YoY and 3,247 units in November. Suzuki remained the market leader through its WagonR volumes while Toyota trailed behind with 696 units. While van registrations increased to 518 from 468 YoY, they declined from 802 in November.
Just 58 brand-new vans were registered. Of the pre-owned, Toyota led with 210 units, while Suzuki followed with 148. Three-wheel registrations increased to 10,480 from 7,700 YoY but fell from 13,668 in November.
Bajaj remained the leader with 7,918 units, but the market share fell to 75.6 percent from 88.2 percent YoY and 87.9 percent in November. TVS filled up the gap with 1,764 units, up from 355 YoY and 919 in November.
Two-wheeler registrations fell to 30,241 from 38,218 YoY and 31,262 in November. Bajaj remained the market leader with 27.6 percent of the volumes, while Hero followed with 25.8 percent, Honda with 24.2 percent and TVS with 12.3 percent.
Bajaj has lost a significant portion of its market share due to a lack of a scooter offering. Scooters make up 38 percent of the market.
Just 229 buses were registered, falling from 636 YoY and 244 in November, with Lanka Ashok Leyland claiming the mammoth share.
SL becomes number one importer of used Japanese cars
Sri Lanka imported 84.55 billion yen worth of used cars from Japan from January to November 2015, setting a record in the process.
“In 2015, Sri Lanka set a record as the number one destination for used car exports from Japan in terms of value – Malaysia being the next highest is almost 40 percent lower,” JB Securities CEO Murtaza Jafferjee said.
Sri Lanka imported 48,402 used Japanese cars, with an average value of 1.75 million yen, while Malaysia followed with 19,409 cars totalling 50 billion yen, New Zealand with 102,487 cars totalling 47.28 billion yen and Kenya with 63,647 cars totalling 45,751 yen.
Jafferjee noted that even though the largest volume of cars were exported to New Zealand, those cars are of low value since they are old, while cars imported to Sri Lanka are hardly used, with 5,000-10,000 kilometres of usage.
“We import relatively new cars, being mainly hybrids and electrics. The main reason for the heightened demand for this category of vehicles was aggressive credit extension from commercial banks,” he said.
Jafferjee said that the overvalued exchange rate till September too contributed to this phenomenon.
He added that despite increases of tariffs on hybrids in the budget, tariffs and additional costs imposed on hybrids are 55 percent lower than that of a similar petrol vehicle.
Jafferjee opined that Sri Lankans will continue to demand used Japanese vehicles as the local agents do not offer the entire product range available in Japan.