x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Rebound in capital business helps BMW hit record sales

Luxury car sales continue to motor forward in the Middle East with BMW the latest to announce strong figures.

BMW Group Middle East sold a record number of vehicles across the region last year, with a 39 per cent sales jump in Abu Dhabi, it announced yesterday.

The group sold 17,119 BMW and Mini Cooper vehicles in 14 regional markets, the highest since 1994, when BMW began operating in the Middle East.

Reiner Braun, the director of sales and marketing for BMW Middle East, said new models, a general economic recovery and improved access to financing for buyers contributed to the sales increase.

"The [lending] criteria is still strict, and everyone is scrutinised quite intensively, but we see a trend that financing is improving," he said.

Restricted lending in the UAE was a major factor in the estimated 40 per cent drop in car sales in 2009. Consumers became more wary of spending on big-ticket, high-commitment items, and nervous banks tightened their lending criteria.

Mr Braun said that consumer sentiment improved throughout last year. "The customer is more open," he said. "I think there was a lot of holding back during 2009, during the crisis year … a lot of people shied away from investments, especially in premium products."

BMW Group enjoyed increases across all its regional markets, with the highest volume in Abu Dhabi, where there was 39 per cent growth compared with the previous year, to 3,316 cars.

Dubai reported 19 per cent growth over 2009, with sales of 3,567 cars, while Saudi Arabia rose 18 per cent to 3,014 cars.

Growth was strong in Syria at 25 per cent, compared with the previous year, rising to 1,098 cars, while 696 cars were sold in Oman, up 18 per cent.

Mr Braun said that BMW's dealers planned on expanding this year, including in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, which he hoped would help this year's figures.

"We've got our partners heavily investing in facilities and staff," he said.

"That will definitely contribute."