Manufacturers unworried about plans to limit motorbikes

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Motobikes make up the majority of road traffic in downtown Ho Chi Minh City

The number of motorbikes on the road already exceeds a proposed 2020 cap, but vehicle manufacturers are not worried since exports are a viable alternative to local sales.

A road transport development roadmap envisages having some 36 million motorbikes by 2020, mainly in rural areas and places with poor public transport.

But the number is already estimated at over 37 million, the Ministry of Transport said.

Authorities are mulling over a regulation to limit the use of motorbikes to a certain number of years.

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Before the road map was unveiled many manufacturers expanded investment, raising their total annual capacity to five million units.

Last year only 3.1 million vehicles were sold, down 6.6 percent year-on-year, according to the ministry.

But manufactures do not seem to be unduly concerned about the excess capacity, and have even launched many new models.

Honda Vietnam launched the Lead 125 and Future 125 FI 2013 scooters in February, while earlier Yamaha unveiled the Sirius RC Fi and Luvias GTX Fi motorbikes.

Masayuki Igarashi, CEO of Honda Vietnam, said: "I"¦ am aware of the government's plan to limit the number of motorbikes to 36 million by 2020.

"But the government has not announced any specific regulations, so I cannot comment."

If the government wants more technically advanced motorbikes to be made in Vietnam, producers would shift to those models, he said.

"In any case, the plan to limit motorbikes will severely affect the industry."

Honda would seek ways to compete with rivals and develop under the new circumstances, he said. It is looking at exports to improve sales.

"Exporting is good not only for Vietnam, but also Honda. It is an opportunity.

"We are looking for markets to boost exports to countries in Europe and Asia."

Honda is studying which models can be sold both in Vietnam and abroad, and they would be produced in Vietnam for exports, he said.

Honda's suppliers have improved their quality in the past five years to meet international standards, facilitating export of its vehicles, he said.

Honda has shipped its motorbikes to Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Myanmar.

"We plan to ship 12,000 LEAD scooters to Japan in 2013."

The government plan does not seem to worry Piaggio Vietnam either.

Giuseppe Messina, strategic marketing director of Piaggio Asia Pacific, said: "Piaggio does not target the mass audience but the premium segment, which is not a large population."

As the living standards of Vietnamese have been increasing, the Piaggio target customer group is becoming larger, he said, expressing confidence that Piaggio's sales would not be affected.

But the company is also expanding exports.

"Piaggio Vietnam has already exported worldwide. The number of markets is increasing by the year. This is the fourth year we are exporting," Messina said.

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