Ramadhan brings in more hopes to auto market

MUSCAT, JUNE 3 – Automobile dealers in the Sultanate are raising hopes that the holy month of Ramadhan this year will bring in strong growth in sales. Most car companies have come up with a wide range of offers such as zero price interest rates, in-house financing and free comprehensive insurance for customers, after sales services apart from doling out a number of other gifts. “We expect to see an enhanced level of sales during the coming days amid a feel of uncertainty prevailing in the minds of customers”, said Rhett Maxwell, General Manager.
Vehicle sales in Oman witnessed a sharp fall during the last few years as the government and people themselves adopted certain austerity measures due to the oil price malady.
“The situation is now slowly changing. People are investing although with a caution”, Rhett told Observer.
According to National Centre for Statistics and Information, there has been 19.4 per cent dip in the registration of new vehicles in Oman during the first four months of 2018 compared to the corresponding period last year.
While sale of private vehicles witnessed the highest fall of 23.3 per cent, commercial and rental segments dropped by 8.1 and 12.3 per respectively, during the same period.
“The improvement in the economic situation is reflective in customer confidence and we expect better sales figures in all the segments”, said Rhett.
Although lenders are offering zero per cent interest rates, Rhett said that customers want the duration for payment of equal monthly instalments (EMI) increased to more number of years.“Customers want the lowest EMI so that they can easily afford to make the payment”, he said.
According to Johnny Oommen, Chief Executive Officer of Al Jenaibi International Automobiles, despite a slow market, sales are expected to see strong growth in the coming days.
“Customer response has been very positive and encouraging. They have been frequenting the showrooms since the outset of the holy month”, he said.
The market in Oman is slow in the sense that customers take their own time to study the new models and evaluate the offers to take a decision although they are excited about driving new cars, he said.
Talking about the booking for the new Rolls-Royce SUV, the Cullinan, Johnny said, “they are exceeding our expectations”. Of course, these are exceptions. The initial bookings have been heavy, he told Observer.
Echoing the same market expectations of the two officials, marketing manager of another leading automobile dealer, who does not want to reveal their names due to company rules, said that buyers prefer to wait until the third week of Ramadhan to take a decision.
“We expect the sales to pick up by at least 15 to 20 per cent as there are many offers for new vehicle buyers this Ramadhan. And the market is really picking up after a lull in the last three years”, he said. According to him, there has been a clear shift from price-driven campaigns in the past. “Now we are giving more value-added packages to support the purchases and also provide lasting solutions for the new vehicles,” he said.

SAMUEL KUTTY