Cambodians bought more American cars in 2014

  • Cambodian is at the top Asian buyers of American cars in 2014.
  • There are more than 2 million cars in Cambodia, besides 2 million motorcycles.
  • Toyota and Luxus are the most popular cars in a country where children attend very poor schools that could be well set with 50 thousand US dollars, the price of many car models in Phnom Penh.  

Cambodians bought 69% more cars from US in 2014 than in 2013 for a total of 4,978, according to a report by West Coast Shipping, becoming one of the Asian top buyers of American vehicles after China, while overcoming Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. It seems that being one of the poorest Asian countries do not stop certain Cambodians to get the best vehicles for their own transport. The report says about Cambodia:

A growing gray market for new and luxury cars has driven up the volume of car imports to Cambodia. They face a similar situation as China, which turned out to be beneficial for the Chinese citizens and car importers. But we are still awaiting a decision by the Cambodian government to tell us if they will continue accepting gray imports or if they will begin to protect automaker authorized dealers and limit the ability for an average dealer and citizen to import new cars (West Coast Shipping, 2015).

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Cambodia among the top Asian buyers of American cars in 2014 just after a biggest market such as China and overcoming more developed nations as Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. Graphic by West Coast Shipping.

Obviously, cars owners in Cambodia live in Phnom Penh with a growing increase of vehicles registration every year in a city with much difficulties in mobility and poor urban plan under action. According to an article by Phnom Penh Post in March 2013, there were about 2 million registered vehicles in the country – most of them running in Phnom Penh in a city of 2 million persons (it does not mean that every one has a car!)

Anybody working hardly and honestly has a right to have a car. But I am not quiete sure if it is the case of many cars’ owners in Cambodia, where some persons don’t work at all, practice corruption in daily life and have cars so expensive that you could build a school with the price of only one. Cambodians are buying Toyota mostly, but also Lexus and Scion. From where all that money comes in a country that was under extreme poverty just 15 years ago? In 1999 you could count the cars in Phnom Penh and mostly were old vehicles linked to NGOs.

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Lexus is the most popular car in Cambodia.

In a country where 80% of children attend very poor schools and health is a hell, it’s a little disturbing to see certain Lexus’ drivers around. Just go any rural village in Cambodia with a school and you can prove how low education Cambodian kids get. If you want to fund a school to build more classrooms, library, a computer room and a school restaurant where children can get a better nutrition, you can do it with about 50 thousand US dollars and I have that experience. That’s the price of some Luxus you can see running Phnom Penh.

Once more, anybody has the right to buy a car, proven it comes from honest work. But, who are those Cambodian drivers? I don’t really think they come from a big variety of people. The only Cambodians that can afford expensive cars are military, officials, some NGO’s officials and many foreigners linked to companies with long concessions.

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This Ratanakiri school is at the middle of rubber plantation. None of those rubber companies do nothing to improve the schools of the region where many children even don’t know how to write and read just because they don’t get a proper education. 

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

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