July 21: After a two-month-long prohibitory order, a meeting of the chief district officers of Kathmandu Valley decided to allow the automobile business to reopen. Entrepreneurs were expecting the market to revitalize after the prohibitory order was lifted. However, even after the market has reopened, the sales of vehicles are still almost null.
According to the businessmen, no customer walk in the showroom to inquiry about the vehicles. Anup Kumar Baral, the CEO of Narayani Auto Business Private Limited and the secretary of the Nepal Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), an umbrella organization of automobile dealers, said that the market has not been able to normalize even after the government lifted a ban on their business recently.
"For some time now, a number of people coming for general inquiry for vehicles have started to show up," he said. "But the demand has declined." After the lifting of lockdown last year, the demand for vehicles went up and recorded the highest in January. Entrepreneurs could not import vehicles as per the demand as it was difficult to import due to the low production of vehicles in India. Therefore, businessmen had started booking vehicles in advance before the prohibitory order was imposed. However, this time the demand for vehicles has not increased even though the prohibition has been relaxed.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the peak season for the sale of automobiles was between June to October every year. Kailash Babu Gelal, Managing Director of G Motors, said that the public’s attraction towards the automobile business has not been seen since the last one and a half years. Before the pandemic, there used to be the NADA auto show in October, because of which, the import of new variants of vehicles used to increase right after February.
He said that the market is still not able to gain the pace as it had last year. He informed that the people have started inquiring about low-priced vehicles.
Demand for two-wheelers had doubled last year. On the contrary, there is no demand for two-wheelers at all this year, said Abhik Jyoti, director of Nepal General Marketing, Nepal's official dealer for Hero Motors.
"Before the implementation of the prohibitory order, there was more demand in April than any other time," he said. "As the market has just opened up, we can't say whether the situation is good or bad right now, but there is no demand."
There won’t be NADA Auto Show this year as well
The NADA Auto Show, which is considered to be the biggest show of automobiles, will not be held this year either. The chairman of NADA, Krishna Prasad Dulal, said that there would be no auto show as the rate of coronavirus infection has not decreased and the government has not been able to provide adequate vaccination.
"The infection has not declined. Experts are warning of a third wave," he said. "We are preparing not to hold auto shows by giving the health of consumers and businessmen a top priority."
He said that they will discuss about the auto show after the condition becomes normal and everyone gets vaccinated. The topic will most probably be discussed after Dashain-Tihar, added Dulal.