Luxury car sales accelerate in Emirates

The UAE was one of the best markets globally last year for the luxury car manufacturers Bugatti, Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

Al Habtoor reported sales growth in Bentley cars of 250 per cent across the UAE last year, compared with 2010. Satish Kumar / The National
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Luxury cars are back in vogue across the Emirates as top-end motor sales accelerated last year - with the UAE accounting for a quarter of global Bugatti sales.

Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Bugatti all reported robust sales increases last year compared with 2010.


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"When the big downturn hit a couple of years back, the market was on its knees," said Bill Carter, the valuations manager at Autodata Middle East, an independent vehicle information provider. "The first area that always recovers is the luxury sector because those people are not affected to the same degree as the man on the street."

Karl Hamer, the managing director for Al Habtoor Motors, the exclusive distributor of Bentley and Bugatti in the UAE, said last year had been very positive.

"We sold the kind of volumes that we had sold in 2007, before the global financial crisis," he said. "2011 has been a very good year for us."

He said the dealer had sold 50 Bugattis, which was about a quarter of the total number sold worldwide last year. A Bugatti Veyron typically sells for about US$1.7 million (Dh6.24m).

Al Habtoor also reported that Bentley sales grew 250 per cent across the UAE last year compared with 2010, but Mr Hamer declined to comment on the number of cars sold.

Globally, Bentley, which is owned by the Volkswagen Group, sold 7,003 cars last year, up 37 per cent on 2010, with the US being the company's biggest market.

Mr Hamer said Maclaren, which launched its first road cars in Dubai in November, had also been strongly welcomed, with the first batch of 28 vehicles quickly sold out. Sixty cars are due for delivery this year.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, which is part of the BMW Group, yesterday said it sold a record 3,538 cars last year, a nearly 31 per cent increase on the 2010 total of 2,711 cars.

The sales figure last year represents the best result in the company's 107-year history, with the previous record set in 1978.

The UAE grew sales 32 per cent last year on the previous year, with the Middle East up 23 per cent overall.

Torsten Müller Ötvös, the chief executive of Rolls-Royce, said more entrepreneurs and business executives were buying the company's cars as a reward for a strong showing last year.

"We have all the celebrities, royals and famous people buying our cars but we are seeing more captains of industry and entrepreneurs buying; people who set themselves targets that they made, so they are now rewarding themselves."

James Crichton, the brand's Middle East director, said he expected further growth this year but was also cautious in his outlook.

"I'm optimistic, but I'm realistic because there's a lot going on with unrest in the region and continuing troubles in the euro zone."

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