* See the Top 40 All-brands and Top 50 models by clicking on the title *
New car sales in Saudi Arabia, by far the largest market in the Middle-East, are down a harsh 22.3% year-on-year in 2017 to 536.767 registrations. However the Saudi new car market may be about to get a boost this year. 2017 was indeed marked by the change in the law that will authorise Saudi women to drive cars from June 2018 onwards, and the likelihood is that this change will have an impact on new car sales in the country. 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. So stay tuned in 2018 for a potential uplift in Saudi Arabia.
In 2017 though, the picture isn’t jolly at all. Brand leader Toyota exactly follows the market at -22% to keep its share unchanged at 31.7% but immediate followers Hyundai (-34%), Nissan (-35%) and Kia (-27%) all fall faster than the market and as a result lose significant share: from 23.9% in 2016 to 20.3% in the case of Hyundai. Chevrolet (-15%) and Isuzu (-19%) manage to see their share edge up but the best performer in the Top 10 is by far Renault, going completely against the grain with a 57% surge lifting the French carmaker to #7 overall. Honda (+18%) is the only other brand to gain ground in the Top 10 whole Ram (+357%), Jeep (+222%), Aston Martin (+71%), Land Rover (+62%), Dodge (+61%), Chrysler (+25%) and BMW (+13%) post the largest increases further down.
Model-wise, the Toyota Camry snaps the pole position for the first time this decade thanks to sales skidding down just 2% to 6.5% share, a comfortable 3.000 unit-advantage over the Toyota Hilux (-30%) remaining in 2nd place. The Hyundai Sonata (-6%) leaps up three spots to #3 overall this year while the Hyundai Accent, leader in 2016, tumbles down 44% to #4 ahead of the Hyundai Elantra (-37%) and Toyota Corolla (-33%) also both freefalling. The Mazda6 is the only Top 10 nameplate to post a significant volume gain, up 8% to #8. Outside the Top 10, the Honda Accord soars 26% and 9 spots to #11, but the heroes of the year are French: the Renault Koleos (#16) and Talisman (#20) both storm into the Saudi Top 20 for their first full year in market. The Genesis G80 is the best-selling all-new launch for 2017, followed by the Geely X7 Sport (#106) and Nissan Kicks (#107).
Full Year 2017 Top 40 All-brands and Top 50 models vs. Full Year 2016 figures below.