Sales of reconditioned vehicles have boomed in the country in recent times on the back of increased auto-loan facilities from financial institutions, business insiders have said.
Some 9,461 cars have been sold in the country in the first five months (July-November) of the current fiscal year 2017-18, while the figure was 20,149 units in FY 2016-17, according to available data.
Traders are hopeful of the rising trend to continue in the coming days.
They said enhanced purchasing power of the customers, necessity of a private vehicle in the face of poorly managed public transport system and continuous development of road network are also helping the market grow.
However, sector insiders said it was high time the government bring necessary change in policy to import more hybrid cars for the sake of environment.
They added nearly 90 per cent of the country's private cars is reconditioned vehicles mostly imported from Japan. Of those, more than 80 per cent cars is manufactured by Toyota.
The sector has gradually been growing since FY 2013-14 after a sluggish growth in the two previous fiscal years, according to data with the Bangladesh Reconditioned Vehicles Importers and Dealers Association (BARVIDA).
A total of 198, 23 9,588 and 7,353 reconditioned cars were imported to the country in the fiscal years 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13 respectively.
In the FY 2013-14, traders imported 14,427 vehicles in the country, which is a 96 per cent growth compared with the FY 2012-13.
Some 17,055 cars were imported in FY 2014-15, growing by18 per cent from the corresponding period.
Reconditioned vehicle importers brought 19,467 vehicles in the FY 2015-16, up by or 14 per cent or 2,412 units from those of imported in the previous fiscal.
In the last FY 2016-17, a total of 20,149 cars were imported, which is slightly higher than the previous year.
When contacted, the BARVIDA president Md Habib Ullah Dawn said that the reconditioned car market has been growing well in recent years.
Mentioning the availability of auto-loan in recent times as one of the key factors for the growth, he said: "At present, 70 to 80 per cent of the customers buys cars with financial support from auto-loan providers."
The amount of credit ceiling is still fixed at 50:50 ratios, he said, adding: "But I think authorities should allow lenders to provide 80 per cent of the price to facilitate financing a private car."
In some countries, auto-loan providers finance the amount equivalent to the price, he said.
Sources said the lenders provided auto-loan at 10 per cent interest rate on an average. The rate was more than 15 per cent two years ago.
Underscoring the need for policy support to import more hybrid cars, the BARVIDA president said developed countries were moving away from manufacturing traditional cars run on fossil-fuel.
"European companies will manufacture only hybrid and electric cars after 2030 instead of fossil-fuel-running ones at present for the sake of environmental protection," he said.
The government should adopt a policy directing the financial institutes to provide auto-loan for hybrid and electric cars at an affordable interest rate of around 7.0 per cent from 'green fund' considering the environment, the BARVIDA chief said.
The government has allowed importing hybrid cars since last July, whereas other countries have been using such modern eco-friendly technology more than a decade ago.
"The government should decrease the import cost and redefine the first duty slab to 1-1,800 CC from the existing 1-1,600 CC to facilitate importing more hybrid cars," he said.
Hybrid cars manufactured in Japan are usually of 1,800 CC capacity, and there are more options in the 1,800 CC range, he said.
Sources said a vehicle owner must register with the government authority immediately after cars were brought to the country.
According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), a total of 327,487 private cars were registered in the country until October 2017.
Some 18,946 private passenger cars were registered in the country until October of the last calendar year, of which, 17,011 were registered only in Dhaka metro area, the BRTA data revealed.
Sources said a good number of cars are sold from the showrooms located at the city's Kakrail and Naya Paltan area.
When contacted, Managing Director (MD) of Haq's Bay Automobiles, Abdul Haque said: "The middle class has no alternative to buying a private car to ensure the safety on road, as the public transport system is failing to satisfy the need," he said.
He also said the highest-selling models are Premio, Allion and Axio sedan cars manufactured by Toyota.
Mr Haque expected the sales to pick up if the political condition in the country remained stable.
General Manager of Reaz Motors limited, Saif Habib Raffel said reconditioned car market was greatly diversified.
The price of a vehicle depends on a wide range of factors including brand, type of car, engine capacity (CC), year of manufacture etc.
For example, a 1500 CC Toyota Allion of 2011 is selling at Tk 1.58 million in the country, he said, adding, on an average, a new model of the series was sold at around Tk 2.4 million.
"You can buy a Toyota Vitz of 1000 CC of 2011 at Tk 1.1 million as the least-cost car in the present market," he added.