Import of hybrid cars is increasing exponentially on the back of soaring demand for the fuel-efficient vehicles from the upper middle-income people, marketers said.
The arrival of hybrid cars, mostly used ones, shot up by 10 times to 1,846 units in fiscal 2017-18 from a year earlier, according to data from the National Board of Revenue.
“The market for used hybrid car is growing fast,” said Habib Ullah Dawn, president of Bangladesh Reconditioned Vehicles Importers Association.
The prices of used hybrid cars are Tk 2-3 lakh more than the reconditioned conventional engine cars, said Monirul Alam, general manager of Sal-Sabeel Cars, a seller of reconditioned cars in Dhaka.
An increasing number of people are showing interest in hybrid cars as many find it extremely inconvenient to sit in the long queues to get gas, he said, adding that CNG-driven vehicles wear out faster.
Above all, the hybrid cars, which rely on octane, are more fuel-efficient, he added.
One of the reasons for the fast expansion of hybrid car market is the government's slashing of import duty last fiscal year to encourage its use and cut reliance on fossil fuel-based cars. In fiscal 2017-18, the NBR slashed the supplementary duty (SD) on the import of hybrid SUVs in varied percentages, starting from 25 percent and going up to 60 percent.
The SD rate was also slashed drastically for higher engine capacity hybrid cars. For example, the SD on cars between 2,000cc and 3,000cc was more than halved to 60 percent. The government also extended the reduced duty import privilege to micro bus.
Then this fiscal year, the NBR went ahead and further relaxed the import cost of hybrid cars of engine capacity between 1,600 cc and 1,800cc: the SD was slashed to 20 percent, according to the national budget documents.
Alam said his firm has increased hybrid car import as its sales are rising.
Despite the soaring demand, the battery for hybrid car, which has electric motor and a traditional gasoline engine, is not widely available. “Maintenance facility is also limited. Only a handful of firms can do it,” Alam said.
Md Lutful Karim, deputy manager marketing of Navana Ltd, the distributor of new Toyota vehicles in Bangladesh, echoed the same, while calling for more investment for developing the after sales service for hybrid technology.