By Joanna Hartley
Middle East still seen as good option as the motoring industry prepares for a slowdown this year.
BMW Group Middle East have echoed the sentiments of other car manufacturers in the region by admitting that next year will be 'challenging' for the car industry.
Phil Horton, managing director of the group said in a statement on Tuesday: "2009 will be challenging but the underlying economic fundamentals in the Middle East are stronger than many other parts of the world, and consumer demand in the luxury segment still remains healthy."
His comments came a day after Ford Middle East also revealed it was expecting a challenging 2009. BMW Group Middle East increased sales by 5 percent in 2008 compared to 2007 - despite a downturn in orders at the end of the year.
Across 14 importers in the region, 15,959 BMW and MINI vehicles were sold, signalling the importance and strength of the Middle East market despite the current global economic crisis, the statement said.
“A five per cent growth during these challenging economic conditions is a significant achievement and in line with our expectations given the softening of demand during the second half of the year.
The commitment of our importers coupled with new models launched in 2008 have helped our sales figures remain positive," Horton said.
The X6 Sports Activity Coupe, re-styled 3 Series, M3, 1 Series and MINI Clubman had all contributed to the growth, he added.
The company was planning to introduce its first hybrid vehicle, the X6 ActiveHybrid, to the Middle East later in the year, Horton confirmed.
"Our longer term climate protection aim is to have zero emissions by using alternative fuels such as hydrogen,” he said.
Having just had my car serviced at BMW and being charged a ridiculous amount, i won't be going near them any more, bring on the independents. Another company charging far more (at least 1/2 again) for a service than in the UK.