Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

Saudi women rev up Volkswagen sales in the kingdom after a year on the road

Women have accounted for a quarter of total Volkswagen sales in Saudi Arabia so far this year

A Saudi woman buckles up before a driving test at the General Department of Traffic in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. CIC / Ministry of Media
A Saudi woman buckles up before a driving test at the General Department of Traffic in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. CIC / Ministry of Media

Women have accounted for a quarter of total Volkswagen sales in Saudi Arabia so far this year and are driving up sales, according to the exclusive dealer of the German car brand in the country, one year after the kingdom lifted its ban on female drivers.

Samaco Automotive Company, the exclusive dealer for Volkswagen in Saudi Arabia, said it saw a boost in sales to women following the first anniversary of women driving in the Kingdom.

“We are hugely proud to be a part of this exciting time for women across the country," Mohammed Moussa, general manager for Volkswagen at Samaco, said. "Our increase in sales speak for themselves and we are honoured to be the preferred choice for so many women and their families."

Ending the ban on women driving a year ago was a historic milestone for the kingdom and was one of the major social reforms introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Allowing women to drive is expected to unlock vast business opportunities for the kingdom, adding as much as $90 billion to economic output by 2030, with the benefits extending beyond that date, according to Bloomberg Economics.

With almost 50,000 driver licences issued so far, the German car dealer said catering to female drivers resulted in an increase in sales specifically to women, accounting for 25 per cent of total sales so far for 2019.

The Volkswagen Tiguan was the top choice for women, followed by the 7-seater Teramont family car, the dealer said.

The kingdom’s decision to overturn a ban on female motorists in June 2018 follows a target to increase women’s participation in the labour force from 22 per cent to 30 per cent over the next 12 years, as part of the Vision 2030.

Giving women driving licenses and better access into the workforce will improve mobility and unlock an underutilised resource: more women will work, thereby spurring productivity, incomes and economic growth.

Engaging women is expected to also help tackle the problem of youth unemployment rate of 31 per cent, of which young women account for 58 per cent.

The rise in female Volkswagen owners in the Kingdom resulted in the first female car club forming earlier this year. Central to the creation of the club, is Ammal Farhat.

Being able to drive has transformed Ms Farahat’s career: she is Saudi’s first female ­Careem captain and is also the creator of one of the kingdom’s first women’s car clubs. In the space of a year, she has completed 100 Careem rides, and organised plenty of car-­related catch-ups.

“We were given the opportunity to drive a year ago and what a difference that year has made for thousands of women across Saudi Arabia," Ms Farahat said.

"Now that we can get behind the wheel, we feel more empowered and have a greater sense of independence and control over our own lives."

Updated: July 15, 2019 05:41 PM

SHARE

SHARE