x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE car sales shift into top gear with seven-year high

More than 200,000 cars have been sold in the Emirates this year - a 30 per cent growth representing the biggest rise since 2005.

Michel Ayat, the chief executive of Arabian Automobiles, says the last time the UAE automotive industry had a high percentage growth was in 2005. Antonie Robertson / The National
Michel Ayat, the chief executive of Arabian Automobiles, says the last time the UAE automotive industry had a high percentage growth was in 2005. Antonie Robertson / The National

Car sales across the country have accelerated by almost 30 per cent this year, the biggest rise since 2005.

More than 200,200 cars were sold in the UAE between January and August this year, according to industry figures.

“We haven’t seen [that number for] the last seven or eight years,” said Michel Ayat, the chief executive of Arabian Automobiles.

“The last time the UAE automotive industry achieved this high percentage, 29 per cent growth, was in 2005,” he added.

The global average growth was just 5.3 per cent, according to an estimate by Nissan. Car sales in the United States and China have risen 8.5 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively, while Europe is in decline, according to a Nissan estimate.

Mr Ayat said the rise in the UAE was thanks to factors including exporters benefiting from high oil prices, population growth and increased migration from Arab Spring countries. Arabian Automobiles has sold about 3,400 Nissan Altimas in the UAE so far this year – a rise of about 33 per cent on the same period last year.

Mr Ayat is confident the company can boost sales by a further 50 per cent in three years.

It is pinning its hope on the Altima 2013 model, which has just launched here, two months after the US.

But Nissan is not the only car manufacturer with strong sales. Audi said yesterday that its sales across the Middle East increased by more than 18 per cent in the first nine months of the year to 6,629 vehicles.

September was the highest month on record for the luxury German car manufacturer, which is due to open the world’s largest Audi showroom in Dubai next month. It sold 902 vehicles over the period, surpassing the 900 mark for the first time.

“If you look at where all the increases are coming from it is our A8, A6, and the Q7 is still one of the best-selling models,” said Jeff Mannering, the managing director of Audi Middle East.

Sales at Al Habtoor Motors have also been strong, with a 88 per cent rise in the number of Bentleys sold, from 165 to about 310, according to Karl Hamer, the managing director of the group.

The company’s two McLaren showrooms have between them sold 65 cars this year, with a starting price of Dh945,000 (US$257,279).

“We’re still number one in the world for Bugatti. We are number one in the world for Mitsubishi. And we are number two in the world for Bentley, with only Beijing, China ahead of us,” said Mr Hamer.

“The recession is now behind us. You can confidently say that the market is back,” added Mr Ayat.

gduncan@thenational.ae