Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/21/2012 -- There are no comprehensive and reliable vehicle sales and import statistics currently available for Qatar, which has only a very small car industry, owing to its low population (1.9mn in 2011). However, some local dealerships do release their sales figures, making it possible to get a partial handle on local vehicle demand and the overall direction of sales and imports.
In this context, in February 2012 local dealer Alfardan Automobiles, the exclusive importer of German premium carmaker BMW's vehicles in Qatar, announced that sales of its BMW and Mini vehicles grew by 26% year-on-year (y-o-y) in 2011. The rise in sales signifies the potential of the domestic market and the rising demand for BMW cars in the country. Sales of the top-selling BMW model - the BMW 7 Series - increased by 63% y-o-y. This was followed by the BMW 5 Series with a 30% y-o-y rise in sales. The Mini brand continues to attract car owners in the country, with 30% y-o-y annual sales growth during 2011.
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Looking at trends so far in 2012, in April 2012 Alfardan announced its sales for the first quarter. These showed a 30% increase in annual sales of BMW and Mini vehicles, according to a report in Gulf News. The 7-Series continues to be Alfardan's top-seller, with strong growth also seen by the 5-Series (up by 104% y-o-y) and the X5 (up 57% y-o-y).
Mini recorded 88% growth in annual sales over Q112, with the Countryman model being the most popular sold within Qatar. In January 2012, Mini launched its Roadster model onto the Qatari market. Certainly, there are reasons for continued optimism on the outlook for the Qatari new car sales market at present, with another year of double-digit growth in overall vehicle sales looking likely. BMI's Macroeconomic team is forecasting real GDP growth of 7.9% and 6.9% in 2012 and 2013 respectively, indicating that Qatar will remain a regional outperformer this year. Despite lower projected growth in hydrocarbon production, elevated oil and gas prices will allow the government to step up its expansionary fiscal policy. This trend will support strong levels of domestic consumption and gross fixed capital formation, while a solid macroeconomic backdrop and the government's strong financial cushions will minimise risks over the short term.
Beyond 2012, BMI forecasts Qatar's economy to expand at an annual average rate of 5.7% over the 2013- 2016 period. Massive hydrocarbon wealth will allow the country to maintain high fiscal stimulus, even as oil and gas prices are projected to trend lower over the medium term. In addition, the government's heavy investment in infrastructure, particularly in advance of the 2022 World Cup, will allow the non-oil economy to grow at a rapid clip over the medium term.
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