Premier Hybrid Cars Sdn Bhd, (PHC) the country’s sole dedicated franchise hybrid importer and distributor, says it will sell hybrid cars at a slightly lower price than conventional cars.
The move is expected to cause ripples in the market, as industry players and analysts were expecting hybrid cars to be priced slightly higher than conventional cars, despite the recent concessions given by the government to help promote the nascent sub sector.
“Reduction in duties may help auto companies to price hybrids close to conventional cars sold in Malaysia. Hybrid cars can cost 10 per cent to 67 per cent more (using Lexus in the US as a guide),” HwangDBS’ Malaysian research team wrote in a report this week.
Last month, the government slashed taxes on hybrids, giving 100 per cent exemption on import duty and 50 per cent off on excise duty, a move which HwangDBS feels is part of a wider plan to reduce subsidies on petrol consumption.
Industry players like PHC’s chairman Datuk Shahrin Zahari, who along with automotive trade groups had lobbied for the tax breaks, feel that there is more at stake, namely positioning Malaysia as the manufacturing and assembly hub for passenger vehicles.
PHC will be selling the Honda Civic Hybrid, a hybrid version of the Honda Civic sedan, at slightly lower price than its conventional namesake.
“The price will be marginally lower…maybe by five per cent. We are still working with respective government departments on the pricing of the other hybrids,” said Shahrin.
He added that the company is willing to run at cost in some instances, as manufactures will only consider setting up an assembly plant for hybrids if a single market can absorb sales of 100 units a month.
PHC also imports and sells the Toyota hybrid versions, namely the Alphard and Estima.
Shahrin said PHC’s initial strategy is to sell Hybrids enbulk to multinationals and government linked companies, as they have the economies of scale to see savings to their fuel cost, and it would be easier for PHC to offer quality after sales services.
“Mind you, we not only have to sell the hybrid concept to the general public, but at the same time we have to build up a whole after sales and spare parts network from scratch,” said Shahrin, adding that by mid 2009, PHC should be poised to “attack” the consumer market.
His view is in sync with Hwang DBS’ internal projection that auto companies would ramp-up marketing efforts to sell hybrid cars in 2010, if they anticipate good demand.–NST