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The Saudi new car market, by far the largest in the region, is down a harsh 26% year-on-year in August to 44.542 registrations, matching the year-to-date decline of -27% to 339.944 units. The recent decision by the government to allow women to drive from June next year is good news for local car sales that are likely to get a related boost in 2018. Our local correspondent however warns that the positive effect, although real, will be seen in the longer term after a possible initial spike as a lot of marketing dollars and cash incentives will be spent to capitalise on this new opportunity. The more immediate effect will be hired expat drivers’ jobs being slowly phased out, and well-off Saudi women taking the wheel of an already owned car rather than each and every one buying a new car. Robust sales will also depend on how fast driving schools will set up ladies specific classes to process the demand and how quickly women holding a EU or US driving license will be able to convert them into Saudi licenses.
Saudi best-seller Toyota follows the market at -26% to 33.5% share this month, a full two percentage points higher than its YTD level of 31.5%. Hyundai falls harder at -35% but also lands higher than YTD at 21.1% share vs. 19.5%. Nissan (-32%) and Kia (-43%) also struggle while Renault is the success story of the year with sales up 4-fold (281%) to 4.7% share in 5th place. It ranks 7th year-to-date vs. #10 over the Full Year 2016. Lexus (+1%), Chevrolet (+5%), Dodge (+19%), Mitsubishi (+49%), Land Rover (+61%), BMW (+76%), Chrysler (+81%) and Jeep (+763%) also shine inside the Top 20. Genesis lands at #21.
The models ranking is once again the theatre of a significant reshuffle: boosted by its facelift, the Hyundai Sonata is up 58% to take the leadership in August with a stunning 8.8% share vs. 4.7% and 5th place year-to-date. The Toyota Camry (-10%) is knocked down to 2nd place but comfortably holds onto the YTD pole position with 8.4% share and sales up a robust 25%. The Toyota Hilux completes the podium but drops 33%, in line with its 35% YTD decline, distancing the Hyundai Accent (-50% vs. -41% YTD) and Elantra (-53% vs. -45% YTD) both continuing to implode. The Nissan Sunny (+11%) and Mazda6 (+8%) are the only two additional nameplates to gain ground in the Top 10.
Other great performers near the top of the ranking include the Toyota Land Cruiser up 57%, the Chevrolet Tahoe up 106%, the Toyota Land Cruiser Pickup up 116% and the Nissan Navara up 10-fold on its August 2016 score. Responsible for the exceptional year of French manufacturer Renault, the Talisman and Koleos are the two most popular recent launches in the country (<12 months). The former ranks #12 in August with 2% share vs. #19 and 1.6% YTD while the latter is 16th this month after peaking at #4 in June. It ranks #17 so far in 2017. The next best-selling newcomers are the Genesis G80 at #66, the Geely Emgrand GT at #73 and the Ram 1200 at #95.
Full August 2017 Top 37 All-brands and Top 100 models below.