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Automobile market goes into neutral   2008-09-09 - VNA

The automobile market has come to a standstill, and is expected to be dormant in the remaining months, according to spokesmen for several HCM City car dealerships. Reported sales dropped sharply last month.

Many blame the increase of registration fees for cars with less than 10 seats from 5 percent to 10-15 percent of the purchasing price starting August 25.

No cars have been sold at GM Company in HCM City since August 25, said Phung Van Minh, a sales representative. Even the Vivant and Captiva brands are unmarketable now.

Toyota has come out with the Altis model, and will show off its new Innova this September, according to Le Thuy Hang, sales representative of Toyota in HCM City .

“But we’ve gotten no response from potential buyers despite a big marketing push” Hang said.

In the past two months, the volume of imported cars fell by 90 percent over the same period last year, according to the HCM City Customs Office.

Sai Gon Port Zone 3, for example, imported only 58 cars. Cat Lai Port imported 38 cars while Tan (New) Port imported eight.

This is an 82.4 percent drop from July, said Tong Le Dan, deputy head of the Customs Office of Sai Gon Port Zone 1.

With banks cutting off credit, the market turning sour and import taxes going up, businesses do not want to pay for customs clearance, and leave their imported cars at port.

More than 40 cars are waiting for customs clearance at Sai Gon Port Zone 4, according to Nguyen Van Lam, chief supervisor.

It is unknown when the market will heat up again as banks tightened lending at the central bank’s request, said Do Thien, owner of a car dealership in District 1.

Customers are also waiting to see if the consumption tax on cars will go up, he added.

“The days of people leaving a deposit a year in advance to buy their own car are over,” Thien said.

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