Major bus network expansion highlights growth potential for commercial vehicles industry

Published December 3rd, 2009 - 02:24 GMT

Massive investments to expand bus networks in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are highlighting the potential for major growth in the commercial vehicles market in the Middle East as regional economies rebound from the global economic downturn.


Dramatic expansion of regional bus services is shown best in Abu Dhabi which is expected to have more than 1,725 public transport vehicles on its roads by the middle of 2010 compared with around a dozen bus services just a few years ago.


In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is continuing to expand its public bus services, adding more routes to link in with the new Metro system having completed a AED845 million deal in June to buy 518 new buses.


In Riyadh, international public transport specialists LRTC from Germany have been called in to undertake an ambitious bus master plan for the Saudi capital.


Expansion of public bus services points to the region being an increasingly lucrative market for manufacturers who can now look forward with new optimism to the launch of the region’s first specialised trade event for commercial vehicles in Dubai.


Organised by Streamline Marketing Group, Commercial Vehicles Middle East ( takes place from 9-11 March next year at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.


The event is designed to position the UAE as a focal point for the commercial vehicles industry in the Middle East, which is aiming for significant growth as the market recovers from the effects of the global economic crisis.


The timing of the exhibition’s launch has been welcomed by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Recent studies and analysis suggest that the UAE is starting to recover from the global economic downturn, and the outlook for 2010 is promising,” said the Chamber’s Director General His Excellency Eng Hamad Buamim.


“Oil prices are near the highest level in a year and auto sales in the UAE are expected to rise five per cent in 2010, as easing liquidity conditions boosts confidence in the sector. We are confident that the commercial vehicles market will be one of the next to benefit from the UAE’s general economic recovery.”


Manufacturers will have been encouraged by calls from experts at last month’s International Association of Public Transport (UITP) congress in Doha for Middle East governments to pay more attention to strengthening public transport networks as a solution to population growth issues and traffic congestion.


By 2020, Dubai’s population is expected to exceed five million, with mobility demand set to quadruple to 22 million daily passenger trips. In response, the RTA’s master plan is designed to increase the modal share of public transport from 6% currently to about 30% over the next ten years, at the expense of private cars.


For the major players in the commercial vehicles sector, meanwhile, more opportunities are emerging as the requirements of private and public sector fleet managers increase. Proof of this was provided in the UAE last month when Fast Rent A Car announced it was investing Dh45 million to more than double the size of its fleet of vehicles.


The company says it is experiencing growing demand for its range of vehicles - from budget mini-buses to luxury coaches - from companies in the construction and hospitality industry, schools and universities, and government-run projects.


Leading international commercial vehicle manufacturers will be among the line-up of around 100 exhibitors at the inaugural Commercial Vehicles Middle East, which is expected to attract more than 5,000 visitors. They will include decision-makers from every sector of the region’s road transport business, such as freight and logistics, emergency services, security, construction, and key officials from regional transport authorities and other government departments.


The event covers all types of heavy and light commercial vehicles, special vehicles, vehicle attachments, accessories, maintenance and repair services.  It also features an international conference, specialised seminars and workshops, as well as an indoor vehicle display area.

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