Vehicle registration drops by 38pc in 2023

Car sales decreased in the country in 2023
Prothom Alo file photo

Car sales in the country declined last year. Registration of almost all types of vehicles including private car, bus, truck, pickup van has decreased by 38 per cent in 2023 than the previous year.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and car dealers said decrease in registration indicates decrease in sales.  They blame three reasons—inflation, increase of car price and political uncertainty in the election year--behind this drop.

According to BRTA, as many as 578,151 vehicles were registered in the country in 2022. The number of vehicles registered dropped to 360,861 in 2023.

BRTA registers vehicles in 19 categories. Other than these, there is another category known as ‘others’. In the last year, the registration of only autorickshaws increased compared to the preceding year.

Subrata Ranjan Das, executive director of ACI Motors Limited, which sells commercial vehicles and motorcycles, told Prothom Alo that the dollar price, inflation, difficulty in opening letters of credit (LC) for imports, and political unrest jointly caused decrease in vehicle sales.

Car, motorcycle sales plummet

Motorcycle sales were increasing year by year in the country. But the sales of motorcycles plummeted last year. According to BRTA, over 500,000 motorcycles were registered in 2022. The sale dropped to around 300,000 in 2023.Motorcycle sellers said the price of motorcycles saw an increase between 10,000 and 30,000 due to dollar price hike. Also, some customers are waiting to buy high engine capacity bikes as some manufacturers are bringing motorcycles with above 165 cc engine capacity to the Bangladesh market.

The dealers, however, said the motorcycle sales dropped mainly due to price hike and pressure of inflation on people.

Private car registrations fell by 35 per cent last year. The sellers say that the price of each car has increased by Tk 200,000 to 300,000 due to the rise in dollar price and the increase in customs duties.

Shubhon Khan, the sales officer of Rony Cars, a car trading company in Manipuripara's Sangsad Avenue of the capital, told Prothom Alo that people have less money to spend in their hands and that’s why they refrain from spending on buying cars.

The upper class are usually the buyers of sport utility vehicles (SUVs). In 2023, a total of 7,756 SUVs were registered, which is 2,475 less than the previous year.

Car dealers said that the government has discouraged buying cars in public projects. This is a major reason behind the drop of sales. Apart from this, rising prices and the dollar crisis have affected the car market.

Bus-truck sales decrease too

Sales of commercial vehicles such as bus, truck, pickup van, covered van are also on the wane. Transport businessmen said route permits for buses have been suspended in the capital for several years. Sales of new buses have decreased because of this.

Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association’s general secretary Khandaker Enayet Ullah told Prothom Alo that profit has declined in the transport business due to price hike of tyre-tube and all spare parts. This has impacted the sales of new buses.

Registration of trucks has almost halved. Around 4000 trucks were registered in 2022 but the number dropped to only 2,292 in 2023.

Autorickshaw is the only exception amid the decline of sales. The number of auto rickshaw registered in 2023 was 9,257 which is 1,651 more than 2022.

Transport sector stakeholders said many young people are opting for auto rickshaw driving as a profession since the rate of new job creation in the industry and service sectors has decreased. Sales are on the increase due to the increase in demand.

Experts said the overall strain in the economy is reflected in the decrease of vehicle sales. Car sales usually increase when the people’s income increases.

Md Hadiuzzaman, former director of Accident Research Institute of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), told Prothom Alo that decrease in car sales has some negative impacts in terms of road safety.

Traffic jams, accidents and environment pollution might increase if new vehicles don’t hit the roads and older ones continue to run.