Reuters reported Supun Deshak, a salesperson at a spare parts business in Sri Lanka's Western Province, as saying, "Everyone is looking for WagonR parts." The island country has discovered that replacement parts for Maruti automobiles are in short supply. The side mirror of the five-seater hatchback is the most widely sought for spare part in Sri Lanka these days.
Car spare parts retailers from Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital, to suburbs like Nugegoda in the Western Province have been seeing consistent demand from clients seeking such spare parts, which are quickly becoming a sought-after item in the island nation. It highlights the country's mounting economic vulnerabilities, as imports have decreased and foreign exchange reserves have deflated in recent years.
The five-seater hatchback from India's largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki, is a popular model on the island country, with over 30,000 vehicles sold in the previous four years. Customers frequently seek replacement for side mirrors, which are often broken in minor collisions.
To save foreign exchange reserves once the pandemic crisis hit Sri Lanka, the government designated such spare parts as non-essential imports. As a result, dealers had a hard time finding them. Because of this, imports of automotive spare parts are expected to drop by roughly 30% in value terms this fiscal year. When a result, the cost of these spare components has increased as new stock comes from abroad.
wanting to make a fast money by stealing and selling side mirrors from popular vehicles such as the Wagon R on the black market. This has led in a price increase of more than 35% on Maruti Wagon R mirrors from pre-pandemic values to at least 30,000 Sri Lankan rupees (approximately $11,000) each piece.
Sri Lanka's foreign exchange reserves have dropped from $7.5 billion in January 2020 to $2.36 billion. This year, the island country will have a debt obligation of roughly $4 billion. "Right now, the biggest concern is the difficulties in importing replacement parts to keep the existing fleet of vehicles operating," says Yasendra Amerasinghe, head of the Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA), which represents the country's major vehicle importers. "Many, many important parts are out of stock at every distributor. Every day, we have to turn away clients "Vice Chairman of the CMTA, Virann De Zoysa, said.
Sri Lanka relies on imported vehicles since it lacks an auto sector of its own. The economic crisis has also led in escalation of used automobile costs. According to the CMTA, the cost of certain used cars has increased by more than 100 percent. In Sri Lanka, a used Maruti Wagon R costs approximately 5 million rupees (roughly equivalent to Rs. 18.55 lakh). According to CMTA, it is substantially more than the usual price of 10.32 lakh.
The ongoing global supply chain issue, according to the agency, has added another layer to the situation. To increase imports, the CMTA has requested the government to classify auto spare parts as an essential item.