Buzz at motor show | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 19, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 19, 2010

Buzz at motor show

An attendant at the Rangs Group stall poses with a Mitsubishi Lancer EX Ralliart at a three-day motor show at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka yesterday. The car (2,000cc) comes with a price tag of Tk 40 lakh. Rangs is the sole distributor of Mitsubishi vehicles. Photo: Amran Hossain

In a country of inadequate public transport and constant gridlocks, middle and high-income groups are increasingly thinking about owning cars. The turnout at the three-day Dhaka Motorshow that started yesterday is testimony to that.
Hundreds of people from different professions poured into the fair at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. They were making queries on the nitty-gritty of a car, such as engine, origin of parts and most importantly, prices.
It was mid-morning when Suborna Rahman, a mid-level manager for a company, was inquiring about the configurations of a sedan, the highest selling vehicle in Bangladesh, at the Toyota stall.
“I have been working for the last 12 years and I have no car of my own. I have to wait awhile to ride a city bus or take a CNG autorickshaw on my way from Uttara to Gulshan every morning,” she said.
“It's the same battle in the evening, which is tiring me out." This makes her feel the need for owning her own means of transport.
“I have been planning to buy a car for long, but my savings were not enough to afford a new car. At the same time, I did not want to go for a reconditioned car, as I don't want to spend on repairs on a regular basis.” She now plans to get a car loan from a bank to buy a car soon.
Rabiul Islam, a doctor, is planning for a new car, as he is tired of spending a chunk each month on repairing and servicing his reconditioned car. “Sometimes it seems I earn only to feed the owner of the repair shop."
A total of 60 companies are showcasing cars, trucks, motorcycles, motor parts and equipment like batteries, tyres and lubricants at 207 stalls. Participants are mainly targeting the upper-middle income groups and local entrepreneurs.
Shajia Afrin, senior sales executive of Navana Ltd, the sole agent of Toyota in Bangladesh, said her company is displaying cars at the fair that target the upper-middle income and high-income groups.
Toyota, market leader in the personal car segment, sold more than 1,800 cars in 2009, the price of most of which ranged between Tk 16.5 lakh and Tk 1 crore, she said.
At the fair, Toyota brought cars that range between Tk 16.5 lakh and Tk 95 lakh, added Afrin.
Rangs Ltd, the local distributor of Mitsubishi vehicles, sold 700 new cars last year -- mostly "government purchases", said Qazi Saad Ulla Hill Alim, assistant sales manager of the company. Rangs is displaying Pajero, Lancer and Mercedes-Benz for a wide spectrum of people.
Alim said car sales usually remain high in the last three to four months of a fiscal year, when government purchases start.
Alim looks to good sales this year too, thanks to a stable political situation.
The charm of a stylish bike still excites the youth, as sales remain steady even in the worst recession that shook the world in 2009.
Sameem Ahsan, sales executive of Hyundai that markets Yamaha bikes in Bangladesh, said the company sold around 650 bikes in 2009.
At the same time, the sales of rechargeable electric bikes are also growing, and F-Z Technologies Ltd sold nearly 100 such bikes last year, said Mohammad Sohail Rashid, general manager of the company.
At the inaugural ceremony, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan urged local banks to lower the interest rate for car loans and ease the terms and conditions.
“Owning a car is no longer a luxury. Many middle-income groups of people are thinking about buying a car. This situation is also an indicator of improved lifestyles of the urban middle class that shows stable economic growth,” he said.
The fair is open to all from 10am to 8pm at an entry fee of Tk 30 a person.

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