Lunar New Year sparks demand for cars
The Vietnamese habit of making big-ticket purchases ahead of Lunar New Year has sparked off huge demand for cars in recent weeks.
In fact, demand has been so high that people are unable to buy a vehicle without paying extra money to dealers.
An experienced salesman, who has worked at many dealerships, told Viet Nam News on condition of anonymity that the demand for cars rose every year before Lunar New Year, especially for popular brands like Honda, Toyota and Hyundai.
“It is hard to buy. But if a person is ready to pay extra money to agents, they can buy.”
They need to pay VND50-100 million (US$2,200-4,400) extra to buy a Honda CRV or a Hyundai Santafe, according to the salesman.
Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper reports that agents demand VND70-150 million ($3,300-5,500) for a Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest.
The extra, for guaranteed delivery before the New Year, is called “packaged spare parts”.
The newspaper says other brands requiring a premium are Mitsubishi Xpander, Honda CR-V, Toyota Prado, Land Cruiser and Toyota Rush.
Most agents say cars will only be delivered in March unless customers pay the extra money, it says.
An employee at a dealership said they got only 20 units of each brand and so could not meet the demand, which surges two- or three-fold before Lunar New Year.
The director of an auto import-export company was quoted by Sai Gon Giai Phong as saying: “The reason for the car shortage is that auto companies had temporarily stopped imports from Indonesia and Thailand due to some difficulties. They resumed imports in the second half of 2018, so the inventory is not huge.”
The seller told Viet Nam News that dealers also had many tricks to raise prices.
“Some of them stockpile cars until Lunar New Year. Some take orders from customers who do not need the car before the festival and resell.
“But auto companies who have clear policies control their dealers and price increases do not happen.”
Customs said nearly 6,400 cars were imported between January 1 and 15 for $157 million.
They included 4,264 vehicles with fewer than nine seats valued at $95 million.
In December 14,200 units had been imported.