* See the Top 42 All-brands and Top 50 models by clicking on the title *
The largest market in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, the Saudi Arabian new car market is in the middle of an unprecedented collapse: after falling 17% in 2016 and 22% in 2017, deliveries plunge another 25% halfway through 2018 to just 190.894 units. Even removing 2017 figures for the VW and BMW Groups – tiny here – to form a comparable set, does not improve that decline. The big question mark now for Saudi Arabia is how much can the arrival on the market of women, able to get a driver’s license from June 24 onwards, help sales recover in 2018? I was asked this very question in two interviews by the Los Angeles Times and the BBC (you can see the BBC.co.uk article here). My answer is, unfortunately, not much if any.
Although Saudi car dealerships are desperate for any additional sales in the current horrendous context and have put all stops to welcome this new clientele with dedicated marketing campaigns, the 3 million Saudi women that will be driving by 2020 according to PwC won’t hit the roads all at once. Instead, the gearing up with be very gradual and the short-term effect on sales should be, at most, minimal. Initially, a lot of new women drivers will be well-heeled car owners that will simply fire their drivers and take the wheel instead, and that means no additional sales. In fact June deliveries, far from indicating a potential positive impact of the arrival of women over the last week of the month, actually show an even more ghastly 41% year-on-year decline to just 28.120 units.
In this troubled context, brand leader Toyota follows the market with a 25% drop to keep its share above 31%, now more than double Hyundai (-41%) freefalling to 15% vs. 18.9% a year ago. Nissan (-21%) manages to improve slightly to 7.5% while Mazda soars 34% to post the only year-on-year gain in the Top 10, up four spots to #4. Honda (-6%), Chevrolet (-12%) and Ford (-13%) also resist whereas Kia (-47%), Renault (-39%) and Isuzu (-34%) crumble. Just outside the Top 10, Mitsubishi posts a staggering 184% year-on-year uplift thanks to two new launches (see further down), up 4 ranks to #11, with Ram (+391%), McLaren (+100%), Cadillac (+17%) and Maserati (+16%) also impressive. In a risky environment, Chinese MG has achieved a successful launch in Saudi Arabia, landing directly at #15 with just under 1.800 sales and 0.9% share.
Over in the models ranking, the Toyota Camry (-36%) manages to hold onto the top spot despite a painful dive, it is now followed by the Toyota Hilux (-7%) up two ranks and the Hyundai Sonata (+1%) up three. The Hyundai Accent (-51%) and Elantra (-38%) all fall faster than the market but remain in the Top 5 where there is now 3 Hyundais vs. 2 Toyotas. The Japanese carmakers compensates by placing the Corolla (-40%) and Yaris (-18%) just below. The Mazda6 (-6%) is up two ranks to #8 and the Isuzu TF (-6%) breaks into the Top 10. Notice also the Nissan Navara (+117%), Chevrolet Spark (+69%) and Mazda CX-9 (+98%), while the Mitsubishi Attrage (#23) is the best-selling recent launch (<12 months) above the Mazda CX-5 (#50), MG360 (#55), Mazda CX-3 (#67), MG ZS (#71), MG RX5 (#73), Mitsubishi Mirage (#87), Geely Emgrand GS (#90) and Toyota Rush (#93).
Full H1 2018 Top 42 All-brands and Top 50 models vs. Full H1 2017 figures below.