ALL 1000 Chery QQ3 passenger cars imported by the Ministry of Industry from China’s state-owned Chery Auto Mobile Company have sold out within a week, buyers and ministry officials said.
The cars were imported in the first week of December and put on sale at Ministry of Industry showrooms in Yangon and Mandalay on December 9 and 15 respectively.
However, the ministry stopped accepting applications for cars at the Kabar Aye Pagoda Road showroom in Yangon on December 13 because all 800 available in the city had been accounted for, a ministry official said.
The ministry priced the cars at US$5800 with K2.84 million for customs duty and commercial tax and buyers must also pay an extra $3373 in licensing fees to the Directorate of Road Transport. The total cost, in dollars and using an exchange rate of K780 a dollar, was $12,814.
U Khin Maung Win was one of 800 in Yangon who managed to buy one of the Chery cars.
“My car cost about K10 million when all of the taxes and duties were added up,” he said.
However, he was one of the lucky few buyers and was able to do so after making an application on December 9. He eventually paid for and accepted the vehicle on December 14.
Pabedan township resident Daw Nwe Nwe Mu was among those whose applications were knocked back.
“I visited the showroom on December 9 to try and buy a car but when I came back on December 12 to submit the application, I was told that the applications had been closed since 2pm,” she said.
Another disappointed customer was Yankin township resident U Aung Kyaw.
“When I visited the showroom Yangon I was happy to see a big sign out the front that said ‘Sales open to all’ but when I went inside there was a smaller notice on the wall that ‘No more applications to be accepted’,” he said.
He added that the small Chery cars were popular because they had four doors and could easily be used for taxis because the small engines used little fuel. As a result, owners could easily rent the cars for K15,000 a day to taxi drivers, he added.
The ministry official said more than 300 cars had been released to buyers by close of business on December 15 but the remaining 500 available in Yangon were being held back because the ministry was still processing the paperwork and determining which applications would be successful.
“Although Japanese-made Nissan Sunny Super Saloons made in 1986 or 1987 cost about K10 million I wanted to buy a new car because I can’t guess when the La, Hta or Ah prefix number plates will be included in the import substitution program,” said Daw Nwe Nwe Mu.
The Chery QQ3 and Myanmar Mini Wagon, which is made by the Ministry of Industry, are almost identical because the ministry imports the parts and assembles them in Myanmar.
“I prefer the Chery because I think the quality will be better than the cars made here, even though the price is about the same,” said U Khin Maung Win.
“When I heard that Chery cars would be on sale in Yangon I immediately decided to try and buy one because I thought they would be cheaper and better quality,” said U Khin Maung Win.
“I discovered that the Chery’s wheels are made from alloy, whereas the cars produced here are just steel. There are also more speakers for the stereo than the Myanmar Mini has,” he added.
The ministry imported the cars directly from China because it is not making enough Myanmar Mini Wagons to meet domestic demand.
“I submitted an application to buy a Myanmar Mini in March but I have not received any reply from the ministry. I’ve even heard rumours that the ministry has received so many applications that it’s not accepting any new orders,” Daw Nwe Nwe Mu said.
The showroom in Mandalay was given 200 cars to sell, a ministry official there said last week, adding that a showroom and sales centre will open in Nay Pyi Taw in the future, he added.
“The Ministry of Industry plans to import as many Chery cars as possible in coming years to meet the demand in the country,” a Ministry of Industry spokesperson in Yangon said.
An announcement by the Ministry of Industry on MRTV-4 in November said 3000 Chery cars had been ordered from China.
The Chery QQ3 model is powered by an 812 cubic centimetre (0.812 litre) engine that allows a top speed of about 130kh/h, the company’s website says.
Chery has built three million passenger cars and has exported 400,000 units by December 2011, the company’s sales brochure says.