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Kingdom’s car market on the upswing
Demand for small cars in Saudi has grown considerably.
June 9, 2010 3:11 by Samuel Potter
The demand for small cars has grown substantially, according to Ali Alireza, managing director of Haji Husein Alireza & Co. Ltd. “And this (small car) segment has become very big, not only for Mazda but for other car manufacturers as well,” he told Arab News on Tuesday on the sidelines of the debut of 2011 Mazda2.
Such small cars are fuel-efficient and involve lower maintenance costs. “Fuel efficiency is not so much relevant to this market, but it does matter a lot for students,” Alireza said. They have a limited income and so they find small cars affordable. Such cars are also favored by expatriates, as they can drive here and also take them back home, he said, adding that for the small car segment, the number one sales drive for Mazda2 is value.
“The Kingdom’s automobile market continues to recover and we can now see a distinct upswing. We are facing aggressive orders for 2011 models,” said Alireza who is also a member of the National Automobile Committee and the National Commercial Committee. Following the world economic crisis that impacted the automobile industry, there has been a good recovery of the car market in 2010. American car manufacturers’ quarterly results show they are all 15 to 18 percent above last year’s sales. 2009 touched the lowest point for the automotive industry.
Alireza said the Kingdom’s market was characterized by style, as the population of young Saudis continues to rise. “Over the last few years, we missed a compact and dynamic model that could meet the needs of a wide section of our youth. Hence, we started working in collaboration with our partners at Mazda Motor Corporation (MMC) to offer a vehicle that carries Mazda’s brand and genes, a car that can meet the requirements for a compact and strong car. Our efforts have resulted in the launch of the totally new Mazda2 generation.”
“Having provided various models that suit all segments such as the Mazda6 Ultra for executives and young businessmen, the family car CX9, the young family car CX7, and the sport and youth model Mazda3, MMC now presents its new modern and most distinctive Mazda2,” Alireza added.
About car recalls, Alireza said it had assumed prominence due to the wide publicity given by the manufacturers through the media and communication. “I would be surprised if car manufacturers do not resort to recalls, because nobody builds a perfect car,” he said, adding that the method of reporting recalls is more public than what it was in the past.
The Mazda2 four-door hatchback comes in Sport and Touring trim levels. The sole powertrain teams a 100-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain-side airbags, and front-side airbags. Air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote entry, and 60/40 spilt-folding rear seat backs are standard on all models. Standard on the Touring are cruise control and steering wheel audio controls, Yuji Nakamine, managing executive officer and general manager of MMC’s overseas sales, said. “The affordable, fun-sized creation is a stylish, eco-friendly, fun-to-drive five-door hatchback and is based on our Zoom-Zoom concept. It is compact and efficient, yet packed with style and substance, Nakamine added.
Japanese Consul General Toshimitsu Ishigure said Mazda cars were entirely built in Japan. “Mazda2 is for youth and we hope they will enjoy driving.”