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French Version

Car sales revving up to overtake 2002 figures - First 11 months of last year saw a 13.7 percent increase (Daily Star)

Car sales in Lebanon have increased by 13.7 percent for the first 11 months of 2003, offsetting the 21.5 percent decrease that occurred during the first quarter of 2003.

According to figures released by the Association of Automobile Importers in Lebanon (AAIL) and published in Saradar Weekly Monitor, 14,385 new cars and vehicles were sold till the end of November ­a surprising increase compared to the 12,646 vehicles that were sold during the same period in 2002, especially since sales during the beginning of the year were very negative.

The main reason for the decrease in sales for the first quarter of 2003 was the war in Iraq in March, which severely damaged consumer confidence and spending habits. However, the appreciation of the Euro and the Yen had also played a major role since European and Japanese cars had become nearly 30 percent more expensive than last year.

“The sharp drop is also due to seasonal factors, since the peak season for new car sales traditionally starts in the third quarter of the year, with the beginning of summer and the introduction of new models to the market in the fourth quarter,” Samir Homsi, the president of the AAIL, told The Daily Star in June, when the first quarter results were first released.

This view is strongly reinforced by looking at sales of German car manufacturer Porsche, which witnessed a 566.7 percent increase during the first quarter, when it released its new Cayenne model.

The growth in sales for the first 11 months of 2003 was mainly attributed to offers and incentives from various car dealers that were designed to counterbalance the 10 percent Value Added Tax, registration fees and the weakening of the US dollar.

Even German luxury car manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz, had to post on its Lebanese website that “prices are stable” to set a purchasing mindset.

Out of the 14,385 cars sold during the first 11 months of 2003, European cars accounted for 45.3 percent of all vehicles sold, narrowly followed by Japanese cars with 43.2 percent. Korean cars had a 7.9 percent market share and American vehicles had a tiny 2.8 percent share.

The Japanese car manufacturers recorded the largest increase in sales by posting a 24.6 percent jump compared to last year. American cars were in second position with a 15.4 percent increase, while European cars posted an 8 percent growth.

The biggest increase in sales was achieved by Porsche with an impressive 1,080 percent increase. The large sales increase, which reached 118 vehicles sold, was due to the introduction of the Cayenne.

Mitsubishi posted a 63.7 percent increase with 614 cars, Citroen 57.3 percent with 656 cars, Hyundai 56.1 percent with 620 cars, Honda 54.8 percent with 808 cars, Renault 35.3 percent with 1,166 cars, Peugeot 32.9 percent with 1,823 cars, Nissan 24.8 percent with 2,550 cars and Toyota 18.7 percent with 1,326 cars. BMW and Volkswagen posted a 21.3 percent and 25.9 percent decrease, respectively.

Beirut 26-01-2004
Tarek El Zein
The Daily Star

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