x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Audi roars to 'phenomenal' sales growth

Audi is looming large in the rear-view mirrors of fellow German car makers BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the UAE, after the brand's sales growth eclipsed its dominant competitors last year.

Audi announced record Middle East sales of 7,865 vehicles last year, with 40 per cent of its business plied in the UAE. Jeff Topping / The National
Audi announced record Middle East sales of 7,865 vehicles last year, with 40 per cent of its business plied in the UAE. Jeff Topping / The National

Audi is looming large in the rear-view mirrors of fellow German car makers BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the UAE, after the brand's sales growth eclipsed its dominant competitors last year.

Audi reported a 42 per cent increase to 1,250 cars sold in Abu Dhabi and a 39 per cent increase in Dubai to 1,887 vehicles.

The numbers compare with 23 per cent growth reported last week by BMW in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, selling 8,831 cars.

Emirates Motor Company, the exclusive distributor for Mercedes in Abu Dhabi, said its sales grew 14 per cent in the capital.

"To get the sort of numbers in sales that Audi got, they are making conquest sales," said Bill Carter, the valuations manager at Autodata Middle East, an independent vehicle information provider.

"They are not a volume brand so their growth is quite phenomenal. Audi has to be taking market share from other manufacturers."

Mr Carter added it was "difficult" to pinpoint what brands Audi had been directly affecting, but said BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti, Jaguar and Volvo were all competitors. Jeff Mannering, the managing director for Audi Middle East, said a combination of new models introduced last year and increased marketing on Facebook, where the brand has 100,000 followers, had buoyed up sales.

"If you look at our premium competition, the other German manufacturers, we are the fastest-growing brand. We are taking customers from other premium brands," he said.

Audi announced record Middle East sales of 7,865 vehicles last year, with 40 per cent of its business plied in the UAE.

It is set to open a Dh100 million (US$27.2m) showroom, its biggest in the world, on Sheikh Zayed Road via its dealer in Dubai, Al Naboodah.

In Abu Dhabi, Ali & Sons, the exclusive Audi dealer in the emirate, is also set to open a showroom.

Chris Preston, the chief executive of automotive at Emirates Motor Company, part of the Al Fahim Group, said Mercedes was the most popular brand among its peers in the region.

"Our focus is on customer experience," he said. "And we are confident this year from a product point of view that we will maintain our growth."

He said sales had been "better than expected" since the turn of the year and consumer confidence was growing in Abu Dhabi.

"I would say there is more spending power in the Emirati and expat community," said Mr Preston.

BMW Middle East reported a 9 per cent increase in sales in the region, delivering 8,657 vehicles, including Minis, to customers, with the UAE the biggest market in the region.

"In general, competition is always welcomed," said Joerg Breuer, the managing director for the brand in the Middle East.

"Competition keeps your mind fresh and innovative. We are very proud of what we have achieved."

Mercedes does not give a specific breakdown of its sales in countries in the Middle East.

rjones@thenational.ae