Second-hand vehicle market booms amid calls for social distancingSales of reconditioned autos have increased by 25 to 30 percent compared to pre-pandemic times, dealers say.
Public transportation has always been stressful for Agya Timsina who commutes daily between Gokarna and Baneshwor by crowded bus and micro.
After the lockdown was lifted, Timsina was told she would have to attend office; and she dreaded having to go back to riding the same crowded buses again.
“I have always thought of buying a scooter. But after the pandemic, I felt it had become a necessity,” Timsina, who works for an education consultancy, told the Post.
“I became afraid of commuting by public transportation listening to the news of infections and deaths; and health experts were telling people to maintain physical distance to control the spread of the virus,” said the 29-year-old office-goer. “Then I decided to learn to ride a scooter and buy one,” she added.
After going to driving school for a month, she went to buy a new scooter. But most of the models cost more than Rs200,000 which was beyond her budget. Then one of her friends suggested buying a used scooter, and she thought she should check it out.
Timsina purchased a second-hand scooter for Rs90,000 from a recondition house last November. “I had many doubts about buying a second-hand scooter. I especially worried that it may break down frequently. But it is not giving me much trouble, and I take it in for a service on time,” said Timsina who has applied for a driving licence.
Demand for reconditioned vehicles, especially second-hand scooters, has risen sharply, say used car dealers.
“Sales of second-hand scooters have increased by almost 50 percent since the lockdown was lifted,” said Rajendra Shahi, owner of Newa Brothers’ Recondition House, Ravibhawan.
“Scooters get sold out as soon as they arrive at the shop,” Shahi, who has been selling used vehicles for around 18 years, told the Post. “Second-hand scooters costing Rs80,000 to Rs90,000 sell the fastest,” he said.
According to him, the price of old scooters depends on the condition and lot number. “I could sell 15-20 second-hand scooters daily if I had enough inventory, but there are more buyers than sellers.”
There are around 50 recondition houses on the stretch between Soalteemod and Kalanki Mandir which is considered to be a hub for used cars. Shahi said that all the dealers here report a hike in sales.
“With people not being able to buy new cars and the government’s apathetic policy towards the automobile sector, prospective customers are turning to reconditioned vehicles, especially after the pandemic,” Subhash Acharya, vice-president of the Nepal Automobile Dealers Association, told the Post.
“Sales of reconditioned automobiles have increased by 25 to 30 percent compared to pre-pandemic times,” he said. "As most motor vehicles are imported from India and production has slowed there due to the lockdown, the demand and supply gap is also pushing customers towards second-hand machines," he added.
"Freedom from crowded public transportation, ease of driving and economics are the main reasons second-hand scooters have become popular," Shahi said. "Sales of used motorcycles are at the same level as before the pandemic."
Bhupendra Bhandari, marketing manager of DN Automobiles, Baphal had expected sales of second-hand cars to drop because people had lost their incomes due to the pandemic. But he was in for a pleasant surprise as people driving motorcycles upgraded to four-wheelers.
“Sales of cars priced below Rs1.5 million took off soon after the stay-home order was lifted. We had nearly 30 reconditioned passenger cars in stock which were sold out immediately after the three-month-long lockdown ended,” Bhandari said. According to him, demand has dipped slightly of late, but sales are still good.
"There are fewer sellers, but there has been no decline in the number of prospective buyers," said Bhandari of DN Automobile which has completed 10 years of operation.
"People who had not planned to buy a motor vehicle may change their minds as there are chances of a second wave of Covid-19," he said.
According to him, 70 percent of the car owners who sell their vehicles do so to upgrade to a new one while 15 percent do so because they need the cash. Four-wheelers which have been driven for less than five years are in good condition while cars used for more than 10 years might need maintenance.
“Around 16 people come to us to sell their four-wheelers daily. Our sales average 22 cars monthly,” he said.
"There should be laws regulating sales of reconditioned automobiles as there are high chances of stolen cars being put on the market," Acharya said.
"If there was financing facilities for second-hand automobiles, more people would have access to them. Due to the high demand for reconditioned vehicles, prices have also increased in recent times."