Women drivers to impact ride-hailing apps in Saudi Arabia

Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan and BMW are top brands coveted by would-be Saudi women drivers

Saudi women check a car at an automobile stand in the Saudi Red Sea resort of Jeddah on October 5, 2017. 
With many carrots and some sticks, ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia seeks to tackle entrenched male attitudes towards women drivers before millions take the wheel, many for the first time, on June 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Amer HILABI
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Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and its regional rival Careem are set to lose market share in Saudi Arabia, as a result of the decision to grant Saudi women the freedom to drive from next year, reveals a new survey

According to research firm Kantar TNS's survey, these transport providers will have to differentiate themselves when it comes to engaging women drivers in order to remain competitive.

The study was conducted in partnership with online panel providers Kantar MobiworkX and Borderless Access.

The decision to allow women to drive was announced on September 26 with a royal decree due to come into force on June 24, 2018.


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Government ministries and departments have been given 30 days to come up with policies and procedures for the decree's implementation. The poll, which surveyed 217 females and 299 males in Saudi Arabia between September 28 and September 30, revealed that 82 per cent of Saudi women intend to get a driving lic­ence and 92 per cent of those intending to drive will curtail their reliance on taxis and services such as Uber.

"This historic decision by the Saudi government changes the automotive landscape in the kingdom and will present long term economic benefits beyond the automotive industry," said Neal Henriques, the regional automotive director for Kantar.

"Marketers who want to be ahead of the game need to gain a deep understanding of the needs and drivers that will affect female purchase decisions and tailor their offerings accordingly to capitalise on the new oppor­tunity." 

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers

The study revealed that Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan and BMW are some of the car brands ­that are favoured by Saudi women.

Nearly 60 per cent of respondents intend to buy a car in the next three years and 38 per cent said they would acquire one in the next year.

Non-premium, small and medium cars that cost on average 63,000 riyals (Dh61,700) will be in greater demand, with 71 per cent of respondents saying they would buy from that segment. "We expect to see growth in the medium passenger cars and medium SUV segment as female drivers seek a combination of space, practicality and convenience," said Nissan Middle East chief marketing officer Fadi Ghosn. 

"There might also be vehicle shifts within the household with existing vehicles being given to family members and new ones purchased. Finally, along with increased new car sales, we expect to see growth in used car transactions – in what looks set to be a dynamic market," added Mr Ghosn.

Demand for premium cars will also increase with one tenth of the respondents saying they would pay 110,000 riyals for such cars.

With males expected to continue to influence decision making over the purchase of cars and the choice of brands, 44 per cent of surveyed men said they are undecided whether to buy a new car or give a used one to the women.