Toyota, Volvo drive off with first Myanmar Car of the Year awards
Organizers spotlight new vehicles in a market dominated by used ones
YUICHI NITTA, Nikkei staff writer
YANGON -- Toyota Motor and Volvo Car have taken top honors at the inaugural Myanmar Car of the Year Awards, a competition the organizers hope will pique consumers' interest in buying new.
Toyota's Hilux Revo pickup won the people's choice award, while Volvo's XC90 Inscription SUV took the jury's choice category.
Mazda Motor's Mazda2 compact, known as the Demio in Japan, topped the small car category.
Tatsuya Kijimoto, head of Toyota's Yangon office, said the local operation is focusing on vehicles "that you can use as tools, and for earning money." Pickup trucks like the Hilux Revo, obviously, fall into that segment. The automaker aims to expand its customer base in fishing and farming communities outside the capital.
Automakers from Japan, the U.S., Europe, China and South Korea started selling new cars in Myanmar through local joint ventures or dealers in 2011, when military rule gave way to a civilian government. But there is still a lot of room for growth: Total sales are estimated at about 10,000 vehicles a year, far below the hundreds of thousands sold in neighboring countries.
Used cars still dominate the market, though rising incomes and tighter regulation on secondhand vehicles are expected to change that.
The Car of the Year Awards are arranged by Drive magazine, a local publication. The organizers said they hope the awards will raise the profile of new vehicles in the country.