Car sales fell 23 percent in January compared to December 2017, a report by the Automobile Importers’ Association shows. The report said Korean brands Kia and Hyundai saw a modest drop in sales in January despite efforts to maintain their sales level.
Kia’s sales for January showed a slight decline, according to Johnny Khsoub, a sales representative at NATCO who told The Daily Star the drop was barely noticeable as sales levels were still acceptable.
The sales drop was also confirmed by Century Motor Company, the agent for Hyundai, Kia’s leading competitor; Rasamny Younis Motor Company, the dealer for Nissan; and BUMC, the dealer for the Toyota brand.
The AIA said demand for small cars (priced below $15,000) represented 90 percent of the total sales.
While the association attributed this demand to the lack of organized public transport, Khsoub explained that people’s demand for such cars was mainly due to their needs.
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He added that this demand was no longer confined to small vehicles as consumers were gradually also buying medium size cars.
Among reasons cited behind the drop in car sales were the political stalemate and economic slowdown.
“This unnoticeable drop is normal because people’s priorities change for several reasons and most notably the parliamentary elections in May, and of course the VAT increase which reached 11 percent,” Khsoub said.
“The VAT increase plays an indirect role in this drop” said Salim Saad, adviser in the AIA.
“Furthermore, the VAT increase has a direct impact on the individual income whose purchasing power has decreased,” Saad explained. In addition, the indirect impact of this increase affects car prices, Saad said.
Despite the decline in sales, Kia remains the No. 1 car seller, according to the sales report for January published by AIA. Kia sold 436 cars in January 2018 compared to 639 cars in December 2017.
Hyundai came in second position with 277 cars sold in January, compared to 479 for December.
It is worth noting that Nissan sold the same number of cars as Hyundai in the month of January compared with 374 cars for December.
The Toyota brand, which came in third place, registered 276 cars for January compared with 301 in December 2017.
NATCO SAL, Kia’s dealer, maintained its leading position with a 16.73 market share in Lebanon in the month of January.
In second position came Rasamny Younis Motor Company, the dealer for Chery, Datsun, Nissan, GMC, Infiniti, Lada, Lotus and Renault trucks with 370 cars and a 14.04 market share.
BUMC, the dealer for Toyota and Lexus, came in third place with an 11.57 percent market shar.
Fourth position went to Century Motor Company with 282 cars and 10.70 percent market share.
As for the luxury car sales in the month of January, Mercedes topped the list with 190, followed by BMW with 43, Jaguar with 22 and Porsche with 20.
By Rasha Haydar
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