Why ‘everyone is looking for Maruti WagonR spare parts’ in this country
"Everyone is looking for WagonR parts," Supun Deshak, a salesman at a spare parts store in the Western Province of Sri Lanka, was quoted by Reuters. The island nation has suddenly found itself running short of supplies of spare parts for Maruti cars. Most commonly sought after spare parts in Sri Lanka these days is the side mirror of the five-seater hatchback.
Car spare parts dealers from Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka, to suburbs like Nugegoda in Western Province, have been getting steady demands from customers looking for such spare parts which are fast becoming a prized commodity in the island nation. It highlights rising economic risks for the country as imports have gone down and foreign exchange reserves have deflated in recent times.
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Maruti Suzuki WagonR, the five-seater hatchback from India's largest car manufacturer, is a popular model in the island nation with more than 30,000 units sold in last 4 years. Customers often look for replacement of the side mirrors which are commonly damaged in small crashes.
After the pandemic crisis hit Sri Lanka, the government had deemed such spare parts as non-essential imports to save foreign exchange reserves. This resulted in dealers struggling to source them. Import of car spare parts are likely to fall by around 30 percent in value terms this fiscal due to this reason. The price of these spare parts have therefore become costlier with new stocks trickling in from abroad.
According to the dealers, the crisis has also resulted in rise of theft cases as auto thieves are looking to make a quick buck by stealing side mirrors of popular models like the Wagon R and sell them in the grey market. This has also resulted in price hike of Maruti Wagon R mirrors by more than 35 percent from pre-pandemic levels to at least 30,000 Sri Lankan rupees (roughly converted ₹11,000) per piece.
Sri Lanka's foreign exchange reserves have plummeted to $2.36 billion from $7.5 billion in January 2020. The island nation also faces a debt obligation of around $4 billion this year.
"The biggest concern right now is the difficulty in importing spare parts for maintaining the existing fleet of vehicles," Yasendra Amerasinghe, chairman of the Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA) which represents the country's major vehicle importers, was quoted by news agency Reuters.
"Every distributor's out of many, many key parts. We're turning away customers on a daily basis," Virann De Zoysa, Vice Chairman of CMTA, said.
Sri Lanka depends on imported cars as it does not have any auto industry of its own. The economic crisis has also resulted in hike of used car prices. The cost of some of the used cars up by more than 100%, the CMTA said.
A used Maruti Wagon R costs around 5 million rupees (roughly converted to ₹18.55 lakh) currently in Sri Lanka. It is much , well above the ₹10.32 lakh it usually costs, according to CMTA.
The agency said that the ongoing global supply chain crisis has added another layer to the problem. CMTA has asked the government to classify car spare parts as an essential item to increase imports.