Japanese cars are the cheapest to maintain in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a new report, which also highlights the trends in the automotive sector.
What cars do people in the UAE prefer? How frequently do they change their vehicles? What influences them to make a purchase decision? These were among a number of questions that were raised in a survey by Carmundi, one of the leading car buying and selling websites.
According to the survey, Japanese cars are cheapest to maintain, increasing their score on reliability and affordability quotient in the UAE and the Middle East. The survey showed that Japanese brands have dominated the local used-car market since the beginning of the decade.
The Consumer Reports’ 2015 Annual Auto survey also found that Toyota was voted the second most reliable brand in 2015, while it holds the number one slot with over 41% of all market share in 2013, followed by Nissan and Mitsubishi closely in the Middle East region.
On Carmudi UAE, car shoppers visit Toyota brands the most, with models such as Corolla boasting of 190,000-plus searches and Camry over 71,000, making them the most popular models.
To compare reliability and maintenance costs, the survey covered top car-repair shops to find the most common car wear and tear and their average costs.
Garages are increasingly working overtime to provide maintenance and repair services. In the UAE, top mechanics report that they receive up to 10 new cars on the busiest day of the week.
Dent repair and air-conditioning replacement are the most common services provided by mechanics. Japanese-made cars are cheapest to service because the spare parts are readily available and there is an abundance of specialised mechanics. Drivers can expect to pay a service charge of anywhere between AED 400 and AED 500.
A majority of cars on the roads in the Middle East, the survey said, are Japanese brands such as Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, besides Toyota, as they are cheaper to repair because the majority falls within the 1300cc and 2000cc engine-size bracket, which is stereotypically easier to maintain.
Strong affinity for SUVs
In another report, the company said that a majority of the motorists in the Middle East was die-hard sport utility vehicle (SUV) fans and the trend looks to continue in the near future. The low petrol prices are, no doubt, fuelling car buyers’ preferences for large-size engines. In fact, in the first quarter 2015, 65% of car searches in the UAE were for cars with an engine size of at least 4.0 litres or more.
In Saudi Arabia, where almost 48% of households consist of 6 or more people, there is high demand for SUVs and other large family cars. Car sales in Saudi Arabia reached 750,000 in 2013, a 6% increase from 2012, spurred by the rising levels of disposable income. Saudi Arabia’s vehicle market is by far the Middle East’s largest market and is dominated by Japanese brands.
In the United States, motorists prefer cars fitted with engines so large that they would be considered insane by motorists in the rest of the world. Interestingly, the Americans share a different taste in cars compared to the Europeans. In Europe, hybrid cars have started gaining popularity especially in Norway, the Netherlands, Iceland, Estonia and Sweden. These countries recorded most sales of electric cars in 2014.
Carmudi predicts that, for the next decade, motorists in the Middle East will stick with gas-guzzling engines. In Africa, motorists will switch to new, more compact, efficient and powerful engines, while, in Asia, they are likely to see a switch to cars with hybrid engines.
Carmudi forecasts positive trends for the automotive sector. The Middle East’s car sales market is predicted to grow twice as fast in comparison with markets in North America and Western Europe between 2012 and 2022.
According to the company, Light Vehicle (LV) sales in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the largest economic bloc in the Middle East, is expected to surge by 25%, to nearly 1.75 million.
According to a report by Business Monitor International, sales of new vehicle in the UAE grew by 16.7% during 2013, and new sales are expected to record a 5.1% growth in 2015 to achieve a milestone of 425,000 new vehicles sold.
In a bid to energise the automotive industry, the Ministry of Economy has urged car dealers to lower prices and to diminish price differences between local and imported cars. This is expected to lend further fillip to automotive sales.
A Car Buyer Survey by Carmudi reported that 62% of car buyers use the internet to search for information on cars before they made a purchase, making it the largest influencer of car purchase decisions.
Only 13.8% of car buyers reported checking out the dealer’s site online, and 10.3% reported viewing car manufacturer sites as a tool of reference before buying a car, while 6.9% listed social media and blogs as an influence.
Frequency of change
Carmundi’s survey revealed that in the UAE, drivers like to change their cars every 5.2 years on an average. This has an important bearing on safety, as the average lifespan of a vehicle listed for sale in the UAE is only 5.1 years, while it is 6.5 years in Asia, and 12.8 years in Africa.
The global recession had upped the average period of use of vehicles in the UK from 6.7 years in 2005 to 7.95 years, a trend that prevails in other countries such as Australia, says the survey. Australians reportedly held on to their vehicles for 10.1 years, while in America, the average span of use was over 11.5 years.
In Africa, motor use is for even more extended periods at, say, 16.5 years in Congo, which compromises safety standards.
Experts say that using the cars for shorter periods will contribute to the added safety of the motorists, in addition to the better returns they get by selling the vehicles before warranty expires. Typically, the older cars from the UAE are exported to other Middle East nations or North African countries.
The trends in motor use in the UAE, however, stresses the fact that the stringent regulations on safety imposed by the authorities and the propensity of the users not to hold on to their vehicles for too long significantly contribute to reducing accidents that are a result of wear and tear.