Car sales in Slovakia showed continued strength in January mainly because many models slipped through customs before the government reinstated its import surcharge on certain makes on January 1, various car dealers told The Slovak Spectator.
Dealers sold over 4,200 units in January 1997, compared to 3,006 units sold in January 1996, according to statistics released by the Slovak Automotive Industry Association (ZAP). The Czech car maker Škoda led the pack in January, selling 1,411 cars, good for a 33.5 percent market share. The Italian auto manufacturer Fiat's January sales totaled 586, making it the second best selling brand.
According to local car dealers, the first quarter of the year is usually a slow sales period in Slovakia.
The strong sales reversed what is normally a sluggish quarterly sales period, local car dealers said. This, they added, was spurred by the fact that many cars currently on dealers' lots passed through customs in 1996, thus making it into the country before the government's January 1 reinstatement of the import surcharge on cars under 1500cc. "We have a number of cars in our stock which were cleared [through customs] in December, so we can sell them at [the lower price]," said Peter Halgaš, marketing manager for Daewoo Motor Slovakia.
"We can sell old stock cars until the end of March or early April," said Kia Slovakia's managing director Alexander Bachorec. "Then we must start on new cars." To lessen the the impact the reinstated import duty will have on prices, Bachorec said the company has been negotiating with its parent in South Korea to get a better price on purchased cars. "We want to wait until the last minute to present our new prices," he said.
The strongest sales were registered in the last few months of 1996. Sales of passenger cars in the last three months of 1996 amounted to 27,666, a 37 percent share of the year's total. "In October, clients came to our showroom and wanted to order cars for December, but we were able to arrange [delivery] in 2-3 days," said Daewoo's Halgaš. Daewoo, headquartered in South Korea, sold 1,300 cars in October, compared with only 373 this January.
According to Kia's Bachorec, three-quarters of his firm's car sales in 1996 were to private individuals, whereas in 1995, 90 percent of sales were to companies. "My opinion is that this year [sales] will be mainly to companies," he said. "We expect movement in the luxury and middle-class segment, and in light commercial vehicles."
13. Mar 1997 at 0:00 | Jeffrey A. Jones