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Secondhand cars deals soar in Bhutan

Publication Date : 27-03-2012


While the shortage of Indian rupee in the country caused some concerns among the government and businesses alike, dealers of used cars are making the best of the situation.

Ever since car loans have been suspended and the central bank froze private vehicle imports from India, business is-a-booming for the likes of Karma.

"I could sell a car or two in a week before, but after the restrictions, I can at least sell one or two a day today,” Karma, inundated with inquiries on his mobile phone, said.

Before March 8 when the restrictions were in place, Karma sold a maximum of 15 cars a month, today he is selling, on average, eight cars a week. Just yesterday Karma sold three.

"People just come desperately looking for cars and I have been considering increasing my profit margins because there is high demand,” Karma said. “They don’t even bargain much this time.”

Karma also offers his customers the choice to change their cars after it is driven away.

"If you’re dissatisfied, you can always come back for other cars and we can settle the payments,” he said. Karma started the business in 2010. His customers range from businessmen, middle class people, Indian labourers and even monks.

All kinds of people come to me because I not only offer Indian cars but foreign and Chinese cars including SUVs like the Land Cruisers and Tucsons. Besides, he also sells bikes, scooters, Maruti cars and pick up trucks.

"Indian construction labourers are my regular customers,” Karma said.

Located at Olakha where most constructions are taking place, there is always an Indian labourer looking either for a Maruti 800, a bike or a scooter.

"Since they have the choice to return it once they feel they are done with it, they have preferred to buy my cars,” he said.

A monk who came looking for a Maruti Alto but instead settled for a Maruti Swift said with suspension of car loans, he could afford only a few hundred thousands from his relatives to buy the car.

"If I feel that it’s of not much use, I might as well return the car and get my money back later,” he said.

While fixing prices Karma deducts 10 per cent depreciation for 100,000 ngultrum (US$1,900) in a year. For instanxce, a 2010 Maruti Alto priced at  300,000 ngultrum ($5,800) would cost 30 per cent less.

Karma even caters to businessmen as he sells excavators, Boleros and other pick up trucks.

He said many people sold their cars to him so they could buy other properties. Those selling him the cars were mostly landlords and businessmen.

With business showing promising signs of growth, Karma is now venturing into other businesses such as shifting home services and real estate brokerage.

"My stock’s almost sold out now,” he said, pointing at an almost empty parking lot where he usually kept his secondhand cars for sale.

Similarly, for Jigme Wangchuk who runs the same business, car sales have been increasing without any signs of dropping.

"Today I sell more than five cars a week,” he said.


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