Car dealerships in the UAE sold just over 100,000 units in the first five months of 2019 — a gain of just 1 per cent from previous year. But even that ultra-thin increase counts for a lot more in the larger scheme of things for an industry that has been hit with falling sales since 2015.
“Yes, it’s the first sign of growth in four years and that’s just great,” said Michel Ayat, CEO of AWR Automotive, which runs the Nissan and Renault dealerships in Dubai and Northern Emirates. “I believe the auto retail sales in the UAE are finally ready for a turnaround, not by much but still enough.
“For the full-year 2019, we expect overall vehicle sales to be in the 240,000 unit plus range, more or less similar to 2018. But in 2020, that could increase to around 250,000-260,000 units, which would make for a 3-5 per cent growth.”
That is something global carmakers and their local partners can live with. It would mean an end to the double-digit decline in year-on-year new car sales since 2015, which led the numbers to fall from around 420,000 in 2015 to just over 245,000 plus last year.
In other words, more manageable growth rates are what the industry wants to see going forward.