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Thu 4 Sep 2008 01:42 PM

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Toyota tops Middle East car sales chart

Japanese manufacturer sells 260,000 units in H1, more than three times its nearest rival Nissan.

High energy prices may be spoiling the party for automakers in North America, Europe and Japan, but they are providing a haven in the Middle East, according to latest figures.

The region's car manufacturers are seeing a double-digit rise in vehicle sales and the increase is expected to continue for at least another five years.

On top of the pile is Toyota which recorded January to June 2008 sales of 260,000 units, up 31 percent on the same period in the previous year.

While Japanese manufacturers dominate the Gulf's top five manufacturers by sales, General Motors (GM) comes in at number two having sold 128,000 units in 2007, second only to Toyota.

However, they are likely to be overtaken by Nissan this year after the Japanese company's Jan-June performance showed an increase of 27 percent to more than 74,000 units - nearly 8,000 more than GM.

Others in the Gulf top five are Mitsubishi and Hyundai with Honda making up ground after a 52 percent sales increase in the first half of 2008.

Although no official data exists on the market's overall vehicle sales, industry executives expect sales of new vehicles in the Gulf market - comprising Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE - to grow to around 1.2 million cars and light trucks this year, up about 10 percent from 2007.

And recent figures issued by the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) on the UAE-Japan trade figures, showed that the export of cars with engines up to three litres, surged by 71 percent while more high-powered vehicles increased by 67 percent.

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