RANGOON — German luxury automotive manufacturer BMW has made substantial inroads into the Burmese market, with the country’s first licensed importer selling 180 vehicles since the opening of a Rangoon showroom last November.
Speaking at the local unveiling of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer on Saturday, Prestige Automobiles managing director Chan Mya told reporters that demand was especially strong in the last two months of 2014.
“We targeted 80 sales last year, which we reached,” he told The Irrawaddy. “For this year, we targeted 200 sales and within five months we have already sold 90. We expect to reach our sales target this year as well.”
The sales figures include 169 near new cars sold at a discount after they were used for official delegations during last year’s Asean summits in May and November.
Chan Mya said that a discerning client base had buoyed local demand for luxury models, and the import of the 2 Series reflected a strategy of targeting parents of young families aged 30-45 and older citizens with a relatively inexpensive product from the BMW range.
“The most important thing in Myanmar is there are many people who like cars and understand cars,” he said. “They know which ones are good and which ones are bad. In many countries, generally people can’t distinguish between the two. But here, besides buying on the basis of brand, customers understand the technology. It is a strong point for the market here.”
BMW dealerships opened in Laos and Cambodia in 2013, with each selling about 100 vehicles per annum. Burma’s second BMW dealership is slated to open in Mandalay within the next year on the back of anticipated demand.
“In the past, most people see BMW as a luxury car for very rich people,” said Chan Mya. “But the new series which we introduce today can also be affordable for medium-income people.”
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer rolled off production lines last year and was released to the Burmese market on Saturday. It will retail locally for US$79,900—well above its US sale price of $32,000, which a Prestige Automobiles spokesperson attributed to the costs of importation and government sales taxes. According to the UN, Burma’s gross domestic product per capita was $1,125 in 2012.