Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Jaguar Land Rover rolls into growing Myanmar market

Myanmar is witnessing something that few people could have imagined just two or three years ago: New, high-end automobiles are starting to hit the roads as the economy of the once-shunned country gains momentum.

Most of the vehicles on the streets of Yangon and other major cities are still either second-hand imports or ancient cars that have been in service for one or two decades. But a showroom for the Jaguar and Land Rover brands will open a showroom in Insein township outside Yangon in May.

UK-based Jaguar Land Rover said it was expanding its regional market presence by adding Myanmar. Owned by India’s Tata Motors, the company has appointed Capital Automotive Ltd, which is also the authorised dealer for Ford Motor Co, as its representative in Myanmar.

“This is the first time that the two brands will be selling brand-new Jaguar and Land Rover cars in Myanmar, though we continue to see the two brands’ used cars being sold throughout the country,” said Capital Automotive managing director Khin Tun. “The aim is to bring in more models of Jaguar and Land Rover into Myanmar.”

Khin Tun said there was a niche market of the wealthy drivers in the country and his company was not worried about sales as it would not be in competition with sellers of Japanese new or used vehicles.

“There are a lot of rich men in Myanmar, so if a customer tells us what he wants to have, any type of car from Jaguar Land Rover, we can provide it,” he said.

“Here there are no competitors for Range Rover in the local market.”

Capital Automotive is supported by Automotive Service Ltd, which is a branch of Diamond Star Company. Capital has been the sole dealer of Ford cars in Myanmar since last year.

“As for the Ford car market in Myanmar, we’ve received customers’ trust and we can say the cars are reasonably priced, so the vehicles are seeing good demand here,” he added.

The local Jaguar Land Rover dealership will offer integrated sales, service and spare parts, making it a one-stop service for customers.

Steve Martin, the regional dealer principal for Jaguar Land Rover, said enthusiasts in Myanmar would be able to purchase new models including the Jaguar XF, Land Rover Defender, Range Rover (all new), Range Rover Sport, Evoque and Land Rover Discovery 4.

“The used-car market for these vehicles already exists in Myanmar. We have new cars so the difference is that all new cars have guarantees and the dealership also has the technicians,” he said.

New technology means that drivers of the newer models will see lower the fuel consumption and have better and more environmental friendly cars.

Used imported Range Rovers have been in increasing demand because Myanmar’s infrastructure remains poor and good off-road vehicles are needed when travelling outside main cities or townships. The imports cost about half that of new vehicles, which range between $80,000 and $100,000.

Land Rovers have a long history on the roads of Myanmar and but hundreds of Land Rover luxury utility vehicles have been imported since 2012 as the country opened up.

Jaguar Land Rover executives say the company has seen strong growth in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand, and strong sales in Vietnam as well.

Although Jaguar and Land Rover are owned by Tata Motors, the Indian automaker’s own brand is facing an uphill struggle to win customers in Myanmar. For the same money, these customers say, they can get a second-hand Japanese car.

“The people of Myanmar don’t like Indian cars because if they compare them to Japanese used cars, there is no attraction for them, even the prices. Tata’s small car costs almost 9 million kyats (about US$9,200), which is similar to a used Japanese car, so people like to buy second-hand cars that they are more familiar with,” said one Yangon-based dealer.

Since Myanmar relaxed its import policies, many of the world’s biggest automakers have been looking to invest in the domestic market. In addition to Ford, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan are already opening showrooms in Yangon.

source: Bangkok Post
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