|Buyers shop for motorbikes at a store in Ha Noi's Hoai Duc District. Viet Nam's motorcycle market has shown signs of saturation, with annual output having exceeded demand. — VNS Photo Doan Tung
HA NOI (VNS) — 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 Viet Nam 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 Viet Nam, followed with the all new Nozza Grande scooter, which was introduced earlier this month. Earlier, in May, the Ha Noi-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 Viet Nam, 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 Viet Nam 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 Viet Nam 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 Ha Noi.
"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 Viet Nam News yesterday.
He said he felt lost before he came back from HCM City, where Yamaha Viet Nam 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 Ha Noi, 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 VND200 million (US$9,524) a month," he added.
Manufacturers, however, seem optimistic about the future.
CEO of Piaggio Viet Nam, Costantino Sambuy, in a recent talk with the media, said that the motorcycle market in Viet Nam is growing by 8 per cent annually. It is believed that the demand for scooters will increase further in the future, as per capita income increases to $2,600 per annum by 2017.
Meanwhile, Honda Viet Nam has put into operation a piston workshop worth VND230 billion after completing construction of its third factory.
According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), motorcycle manufacturers in Viet Nam produced 1.85 million motorcycles in the first seven months of the year, down by 13 per cent over the corresponding period last year. However, in its report released on Monday, GSO did not mention the number of two-wheelers sold in the period.
Viet Nam'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, Viet Nam is the fourth largest motorcycle market, after China, India and Indonesia.
But motorcycle sales in Viet Nam have started to decline largely due to a slowdown in the country's economic growth. Last year's growth was up 5.03 per cent over 2011, the slowest pace in 13 years.
Motorcycles are the most common means of transport in Viet Nam, which has a population of 90 million and 37 million registered motorcycles, while the number of cars is just around two million. — VNS