Al Habtoor sales this year to get boost from Bentley, Mitsubishi brands

Al Habtoor Motors forecasts solid growth in car sales this year after recording a 67 per cent rise last year over 2014. The rise was driven by a high-octane performance from its Bentley and Mitsubishi brands.

The dealer sold more than 68,000 Mitsubishi passenger cars and Mitsubishi Fuso commercial vehicles, setting a record for the company. The auto group also retained its title as the best-performing Bentley dealership in the world, selling 450 cars. Al Habtoor Motors includes Bugatti, McLaren and Fuso among its stable of auto brands.

The UAE’s auto industry expects this year to be a challenging year for growth, with some forecasting a market contraction. However, Al Habtoor said it could outperform the overall market this year, with sales growth of up to 10 per cent.

“We had a stunning 2015 with Mitsubishi, which I doubt we can replicate in 2016,” said Karl Hamer, managing director of Al Habtoor Motors. “We retained the world’s top spot for Bentley dealership, selling 450 cars, and we will undoubtedly do better this year – I forecast we will sell 800, as the new Bentley Bentayga, the world’s most expensive 4×4 is delivered this year, which will sell very well. For our stable of cars, I think 2016 will see 5 to 10 per cent growth, but we will have to fight for that growth as the market is definitely more competitive.”

While full-year sales figures for 2015 at many brands are still not available, BMW’s dealer in Abu Dhabi reported a 29 per cent spike year-on-year in the first quarter of last year, and Mercedes posted a 23 per cent jump in sales year-on-year in the first half in the capital. Sales of the Mercedes C-Class model, for example, shot up 189 per cent in the first half of last year, Emirates Motor Company said.

Transport industry watchers, however, forecast a flat year for growth this year for both new and used cars, as the constriction in the oil and gas sector coupled with the slowing construction sector slows demand.

“2016 could see price reductions for new cars as dealers try to move 2015 supply,” said Bill Carter, the head of valuations and product manager at Autodata Middle East. “The lead time for inventory can be up to six months, so it is very hard to turn off that supply. You can already see 2016 cars sitting at Jebel Ali because the 2015 models have yet to be sold.

I think we will see a 5 to 10 per cent decline in sales on 2015, but as Dubai is a re-export market and there are no hard numbers here for domestic consumption it is hard to know where the decline is, either here or abroad.”

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