April 19: Due to recent surge in COVID-19 cases in India and its impact on import business, the automobile business in Nepal has come to a “complete halt” this year. Entrepreneurs had expected that the auto business would gain momentum after the lockdown and restrictions were lifted but the sale has not been much encouraging.
The biggest auto sales take place in the country during the Nada Auto Show, which is held just before the Dashain festival. After that, New Year also contributes to major auto sales. Until two years ago, new models of vehicles used to be introduced in the country by mid-February. In the last two years, no such enthusiasm has been witnessed in the automobile industry.
Sunil Rijal, General Secretary of Nepal Automobiles Dealers Association (NADA), said sales of auto have not been encouraging due to lack of enough supply to meet the increasing demand.
Nevertheless, auto sales affected since last year due to the outbreak of COVID-19 is picking up. Similarly, banks’ higher capacity of lending has also led to a higher demand for automobiles. “However, the volume of sales has not increased due to the obstruction in supply chain. There is high demand for vehicles because of less volume of import,” Rijal said, adding that the demand for vehicles has not gone up despite revival of economic activities.
Traders say that customers are more attracted towards private vehicles in the wake of Covid-19. There has not been any demand for public buses since the outbreak. Car brands like Suzuki, Tata, Mahindra, Hyundai among others have high demand but traders haven’t been able to import these brands on time.
Owner of Naryani Automobiles and Secretary of NADA Anup Kumar Baral said the delivery of old bookings for vehicles have gradually started. “If the automobile industry in India remains unaffected due to this new wave of coronavirus, we are hopeful that sales will pick up pace from this year,” he added.
Nepal’s automobile sector is dependent on Indian market. Most of the vehicle parts manufactured in India are imported from China. According to Indian media, rising conflict between India and China has led to shortage of vehicles parts in India.