Toyota brand vehicles remain popular among Lao consumers despite the inflow of cheaper Korean and Chinese models into the country.
Lao Toyota Service Deputy Manager Mr Yasuo Philaphandeth said on Friday the company expects to sell 2,760 Toyota vehicles in Laos in 2012, an increase of about 15 percent compared to last year.
He said the best selling Toyota vehicle is expected to again be the Vigo Champ pickup, which was unveiled to the Lao market in July last year.
In 2011, Lao Toyota Service sold about 2,400 units of the pickup, while the other Toyota dealer in Laos, Lao Toyota Thani, sold a similar number.
He said Lao Toyota Service receives about 200 units of Toyota vehicles each month. However, the increasing supply has yet to meet consumer demand.
“People who want to buy a Toyota Vigo Champ have to place a purchase order about three to four months in advance,” he said, adding that last year's floods in Thailand disrupted vehicle assembly and supply.
The price of a Toyota Vigo Champ ranges from US$32,000 to US$45,000 depending on specifications. Mr Yasuo said the company never sells the vehicle for higher than these listed prices despite increasing demand.
In response to public complaints that Toyota vehicles have been sold above their set price, Mr Yasuo said the company is unable to control the price of vehicles after they are sold, adding that people like to make a profit from the sale of their cars.
If people want to purchase a vehicle for its true price, they must submit an advance purchase order three or four months ahead of taking delivery, he said.
The increasing demand for Toyota vehicles suggests the continued inflow of cheaper Korean and Chinese models cannot reduce the popularity of the Japanese brand.
In comparison to Toyota, Korean brand name cars such as Hyundai and Kia are about 40 percent cheaper, while Chinese cars such as Chery, BYD and Lifan are more than 50 percent cheaper.
Korean and Chinese car dealers are also offering generous instalment plans to attract more customers.
The best selling Korean vehicles are sedans, while the best selling Chinese cars are mini sedans. The price of a standard Korean sedan is about US$20,000, while a standard Chinese sedan costs US$13,000 to US$15,000.
Vehicle imports rose 20 per cent in 2010 on the back of strong economic growth, while the total number of vehicles in Laos reached one million at the end of last year.