Car sales are soaring this year across the UAE as dealerships offer cheap financing options and drivers snap up new vehicles.
Mainstream car brands such as Toyota, General Motors, Kia and Nissan report growing sales on the back of a glut of new financing options from banks in the past six months.
"I think the economy here is starting to improve. People are spending money again … banks' rates are better. It's all good news," said Callum Knox, an account manager at Autodata Middle East, a market analysts.
"It seems like the premium cars are selling as well, not just the lower end."
Al-Futtaim Motors said sales of its cars increased 43 per cent in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period a year earlier. Analysts estimate Toyota sold about 80,000 cars last year.
"We envisage 2012 to be the best year for many years," said a spokesman at Al-Futtaim Motors, which is currently offering 2012 models at 3 per cent finance, with three years deferred payment and a three-year service contract.
"Many UAE lenders have provided us with a low rate finance offer for which the customers of Al-Futtaim Motors Toyota will benefit in the Triple 3 Campaign."
Toyota is working with 15 banks to offer the 3 per cent finance rate. The dealer said the Corolla and Camry had been strong sellers, while the Hilux 4x4 pickup is the best-selling model this year among corporate customers.
Nissan Middle East said yesterday its sales grew 30 per cent in the Middle East in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year, selling 37,700 cars.
It estimated total car sales across all brands in the Middle East in the first quarter were 442,000, up from 352,000 last year. It launched a new-look Altima model last night in Dubai.
Al Majid Motors, which sells Kia throughout the UAE, sold 37 per cent more cars in the first half of the year compared with a year earlier.
"We are very fortunate by having overwhelming response to and demand for all our latest-model vehicles," said Samee Ahmed, the marketing manager at Al Majid.
"Cerato is leading in family class sedan segment followed by the new Optima, Picanto and Rio."
General Motors, which sells Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac, increased total sales in the UAE by 13 per cent in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period last year, driven by a 40 per cent increase in Chevrolet passenger cars. The manufacturer has heavily marketed Chevrolet in the past year.
Analysts said cheaper financing options had now been available in the market for months, which helped buyers seeking new vehicles.
"To be honest, the finance rates have been around 3 per cent for a while. The 2.99 per cent has been in the market for at least three months," said Mr Knox.
"I do not think it's going to be there forever but it can drive people into the banks and offer more business."
The Central Bank brought in new rules in May last year, requiring drivers to put a 20 per cent deposit down on all new car purchases to discourage profligate borrowing.
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