Consumers here want the best of everything, so it makes sense that they will soon be among the first to be able to buy their very own Knight Rider-type cars. And the cars are priced for these challenging times: US$25,000 (Dh91,823). The maker of Taiwan's first home-grown car brand, Luxgen, which is a blend of "luxury" and "genius", plans by this time next year to sell the car with a built-in computer that can think for its driver.
The car will be able to warn its driver if it is about to drift into another lane, and will have cameras showing a 360-degree exterior view on a dashboard monitor. Company officials are in talks with about 10 local partners to open dealerships in the UAE - which could be Luxgen's first retail outlets outside of Taiwan, said KC Hu, the firm's chief executive. Luxgen plans to launch its MPV and sports utility models in the UAE, and he expects the GCC to be its biggest market after China.
"Here, relatively, the people are rich and they always demand more premium products, and they like high-tech features," Mr Hu said in a visit for this week's Dubai International Motor Show, where the Luxgen models will be on display. The UAE car market has struggled this year as once free-flowing credit for vehicle purchases dried up during the downturn and as consumers postponed buying big-ticket items.
While car dealers in the Emirates have responded with incentives and in-house financing options to boost sales, the market is likely to shrink by 8.5 per cent this year from last year, the UK research firm Business Monitor International (BMI) has said. BMI estimates that 324,900 vehicles will be sold in the UAE this year, some of which are destined for re-export. Mr Hu acknowledged the tough economic environment but said it also had its advantages.
"In the tough times your competitor becomes weaker and they will spend most of their time to either reduce their costs, or find a way to generate more revenue," he said. "So they have no time to pay attention to a small player like Luxgen - and in the tough times it's easier to find talent, and to find some decent facilities to be our new showroom." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org