- Sri Lankan Flag (credit: Wallpaper Cave)

What cars are liked in Sri Lanka?

I know many have never heard of this country, but I always wondered what type of cars are loved by a country so special to me.

12w ago

As some of you may be wondering, "why is an American doing an article on a country like Sri Lanka?" And that is a valid question. The reason is because I have been there many times, because my mom's side of the family is from there. And I thoroughly love the country and its people. I highly recommend going for those who haven't. But regardless of this, y'all are here for one thing, what cars are liked over there.

From my experience in Sri Lanka, the market is very similar to most countries out of the United States. Hatchbacks reign supreme in the traditional car market. While motorcycles are the most popular vehicles in the country. And the traditional "three-wheelers" as my family over in Sri Lanka calls them. The companies most prevalent in Sri Lanka were Suzuki, and Honda, at least from what I remember from my trip in Christmas of 2019.

But, cars were not my main focus while I was over there, as I was not driving yet, or interested in cars as much. So now that I'm older and care more about cars, I have developed an interest in what cars are driven over in Sri Lanka. So let's look at the numbers. My first google search found me at a website called myauctionsheet.com, where I found that the Honda Vezel was the number one selling car in Sri Lanka. Followed by the Suzuki Alto in third place, the Honda Fit in fourth place, the Suzuki Stingray (hey, my Aunt drives that car) in sixth place. And even more Hondas and Suzukis sprinkled in throughout the list, along with other cars, all made by Asian companies. This would confirm my observations from the last time I was in the country.

Suzuki Stingray (credit: myauctionsheet.com)

Suzuki Stingray (credit: myauctionsheet.com)

So why would these small cars be so popular in Sri Lanka? After all the designs are not appealing to most enthusiasts, with most of these cars being a box with wheels. Well, looking back at my observations from when I was in the country, the roads are very crowded. If you look at any pictures of Sri Lankan roads, you'll see what I mean. The roads normally have people in their motorcycles driving in-between of cars on the road, and the road lines seem to be more a suggestion then a hard-followed rule.

So in order to be able to move around at all on the road, you have to have an easily movable car, and maneuverable car. Also cars in Sri Lanka are a lot more expensive than cars in other countries. A good example is that my Aunt's Suzuki Stingray cost around the $15k if I remember correctly. To get the same car imported to the United States and bought would only cost me $6,382 in total. To confirm the price of my recollection, I also looked up used cars in Sri Lanka.

And on a Sri Lankan website, I found a Suzuki Stingray for 4,850,000 Sri Lankan Rupees. Upon performing a conversion to U.S. dollars, I was surprised to find that this little hatch is $23,891. This is more than my Aunt claimed to pay for hers, and all the other prices of this car were around the same price. This, along with the fact that people in Sri Lanka, generally get paid less than those in other countries, would prove the prevalence of motorcycles and three-wheelers in Sri Lanka.

A Sri Lankan Three Wheeler (credit: publiqzone.com)

A Sri Lankan Three Wheeler (credit: publiqzone.com)

I was curious on why these three wheelers were preferred over cars, thinking that prices would have something to do with it. It turns out I would be right, the first used three wheeler I found for sale was only 610,000 rupees. This turned into U.S. dollars comes out to $3004.86. A far more affordable vehicle for the consumer. Although I'm sure most people would prefer the safety of a car like my Aunt's, it merely is not affordable for the average consumer.

So from what I can gather through research, as well as my own experience, is that Sri Lankans prefer small hatchbacks, motorcycles, and three-wheelers. Caused by the current market supply, and affordability of the cars in question. And in my own experience, Sri Lanka seems to have a thriving car culture. And the roads were filled every time my family went to go do something. I would love to go back and see my family as well as the cars present in Sri Lanka as soon as I can.

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Comments (8)

  • Through and through Sri lankan here. The main reason we don’t have good cars are the tax. You pay 200% on a car (with price of car thats 300%). I left Sri lanka in 2019 and by that time we had Nissan GTRs, porsche 911 gt3 rs, a few lambos, ferraris, bentleys, and etc. there is a great love for fast cars out there but its the tax and the government that is spoiling it. Its not that people like small cars for convenience its that they are forced for it. You also didnt mention the Maruti Altos which are a death trap with no Airbags costing over $10000 brand new. And with the current post covid import restrictions, cars are selling for millions there.

      2 months ago
  • I am a Sri Lankan and I am quite pleasantly surprised and delighted to see this post. The import taxes are very high and the currency is weak against the USD. Therefore affordability is of course a concern, so many choose 2 or 3 wheels. Same goes for fuel prices and that coupled with congestion, fuel efficient vehicles sell at a premium, so much so that the used cars appreciate at times than depreciate! (That means you buy a new car, use it a few years and sell for a higher price..lol)

    Just above 3 wheeles are Indian and Malaysian makes like Tata, Maruti and Perodua.

    Japanese and Korean makes such as Toyota, Nissan, Suzuki, Honda and Kia/Hyundais are very popular here.

    On the other end of the spectrum, there are Bentleys, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Porsches countless European makes like Audis, Peugeots, Jags, BMWs and Mercs.

    Lastly, there are many car enthusiasts and clubs who collect and restore classics and collectables ranging from pre war cars to modern ones.

      2 months ago
  • I've only been there once, almost 30 years ago. My abiding memory is of the use of the horn at every possible opportunity. And also of our tourbus being overtaken by a 3-wheeled taxi, while we were overtaking an overloaded moped, on a blind corner. Most interesting car spots were a Morris Minor, a London taxi and a Porsche 928.

      2 months ago
    • Wow, I've never seen neither a 928 nor a London taxi here in Sri Lanka in my entire lifetime. There was a single red 944 S2. Morris Minors, Austins, Minis are quite common here.

        2 months ago
  • Nice article. I would take the Suzuki Stingray over the Corvette C8 Stingray.

      2 months ago
  • My hand got hurt because i tripped

      2 months ago