Iraq is one of the Top 10 ‘Emerging engines of growth’
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Yesterday I had the pleasure to attend a Webinar from Business Monitor International about the Top 10 Emerging engines of growth in the Automotive industry, so I will write a few articles about these markets over the next few days. First of them is Iraq. My last article about this country was talking about General Motors’s #1 position there in 2011, up 68% year-on-year to 32,000 of the total 90,000 estimated new vehicle sales in Iraq. There is now more information available about new car sales in Iraq in 2012.
Iraq Business News says ‘rising incomes and safer streets are fueling demand for new cars such as Chrysler‘s Dodge Charger, nicknamed “Obama” after the U.S. president by Iraqis. Another car popular among Iraqis is the Iran Khodro Samand, manufactured locally. Business Monitor International says 30,000 Samand will come out of the IKCO Iraqi factory in 2012!
For its part Saipa, Iran’s other car manufacture with IKCO, has announced in March this year it is investing in a local assembly plant with an annual capacity of 120,000 vehicles! With a population of more than 30 million people and a growing economy, Iraq’s auto market has “huge potential,” said Stefan Mecha, VW’s managing director for the Middle East. Predictions for new cars sales in Iraq in the Full Year 2012 stand at 120,000 vehicles, a good 33% above 2011 sales. And demand could get much bigger over the next few years.
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For example, IHS Automotive says ‘in neighboring Saudi Arabia, which has a population slightly smaller than Iraq’s, there are about 6.5 million registered cars’. That’s about five times the estimated 1.35 million vehicles in Iraq, according to Hamid Algharbawi, owner of a high-end car dealership in Baghdad. Official data isn’t available.
Iraq holds “a lot of promise,” said Larry Prein, Ford’s managing director for the Middle East. Ford expects sales to double this year after tripling to 2,000 in 2011. GM plans to invest in new showrooms and service centers in Iraq after initially entering the market in 2003 by selling to the government, U.S. forces and aid organizations, said John Stadwick, head of GM’s Middle East operations.
The Chinese are also slowly but surely getting installed in Iraq, with Foton recently announcing the construction of a new assembly plant in the Iraqi city of Sulamaniyah, says Business Monitor International.