Asia Motors Co Assembly Facility Planned for Capital in 2009

Asia Motors Co, Cambodia’s sole importer of Yamaha motorbikes, plans to break ground on a $10 million motorbike assembly facility in Phnom Penh in 2009, the company’s general manager said Wednes­day.

By 2011, the factory will employ more than 1,000 workers and have the capacity to pump out about 1,000 motorbikes a day in an effort to keep up with increasing de­mand, Asia Motors General Man­ager Touch Sivatha said.

Asia Motors sold 3,000 Yamahas in the first six months of this year, he said, already more than double the number sold from March to December of 2007.

Touch Sivatha said his company is on track to sell about 5,000 motorbikes in Phnom Penh this year despite recent drops in sales that he attributed to the onset of the rainy season and pre-election jitters.

“The population rate is growing, and young people are maturing, so we think there will be a demand,” he said by telephone Wednesday.

Skyrocketing gasoline prices, which now hover at about $1.45 a liter in Phnom Penh, won’t affect mo­torbike sales in the long-term, Touch Sivatha said.

“People still need to go to school, to the workplace, and they must afford some sort of transportation,” he said.

“People will abandon motorcycles for bicycles. But those who drive cars will park their cars at the side of the house and then ride motorcycles,” he added.

Motorcycle sales in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey increased from 400 bikes monthly in 2007 to 1,000 monthly in the first half of 2008, Finance Ministry Secretary-General Hang Chuon Naron said Wednesday.

“It could be because of the increase in food prices and good crops,” he said.

Hang Chuon Naron suggested that farmers in the rural northwest are buying motorbikes with the cash earned from strong sales of farm products to Thailand.

“It could also be from higher land prices,” he said by telephone, explaining that buyers are pocketing extra cash from the rise in property values.

High commodity prices are also boosting motorbike sales in Thai­land, according to reports by the media.

Last month, Bangkok newspaper The Nation reported new motorbike registrations in Thailand reached a 10-month high in May because of improved purchasing po­wer by Thai farmers.

The rise in sales in Cambodia and Thailand bucks against recent trends in Vietnam, where empty showrooms reflect the toll inflation is taking on motorbike sales, ac­cording to media reports.

Honda distributors in Ho Chi Minh City said sales are down 40 percent, the Vietnam News Agen­cy reported Monday, because of sky­rocketing inflation and tightened consumer lending.

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