Changan sees boom in demand as Saudis fall in love with Chinese car brands

Changan sees boom in demand as Saudis fall in love with Chinese car brands
Saudi Arabia is emerging as one of the most attractive markets overseas for Chinese car brands as they grab the attention of dealers and drivers in the Kingdom. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 28 July 2021

Changan sees boom in demand as Saudis fall in love with Chinese car brands

Changan sees boom in demand as Saudis fall in love with Chinese car brands
  • ‘Prices and technology are among the factors behind rise in popularity’

DUBAI, RIYADH, JEDDAH: A decade ago, if you would have asked a Saudi whether he would consider buying a Chinese car, the answer most likely would have been no, but this has now changed.

Saudi Arabia is emerging as one of the most attractive markets overseas for Chinese car brands as they grab the attention of dealers and drivers in the Kingdom.

Car sales in China, the world’s biggest market, were down 3 percent year-on-year to 2.13 million in May, ending a streak of 13 months of growth, mainly due to a global chip shortage and increased raw material prices. Last year, despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-10) pandemic, the data showed that sales continued to surge, and at the end of 2020, Changan’s share of the market had risen to 4.3 percent, moving it two places up in the annual car brand rankings to eighth most popular.

Mohammed Ramady, an independent economist and former professor of finance and economics at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, believes Chinese cars are proving popular because they appeal to medium- and lower-income families. He said the data showed that last year, around one in 10 Chinese cars were shipped to Saudi Arabia. A clear example of the growing popularity of Chinese cars in the Kingdom is the experience of the Changan brand. According to sales data compiled by Bestsellingcarsblog.com, the carmaker, which is owned by the Chinese state, captured 2.3 percent of the Saudi market in 2019, making it the 10th most popular car brand in the Kingdom just a few years after it was introduced to Saudi drivers.

Similarly, data from Google showed that searches for the term Changan increased nearly 50 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2021, peaking in January when the brand opened its service center in Riyadh. 

Dammam-based Wafi Al-Ghanim, marketing communication manager at Almajdouie Changan, the official distributor of the brand in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News there are three reasons the brand has quickly proved so successful: “Prices, quality, and warranty periods.”

“When you think about quality and specifications compared to the price in the car sector, you will definitely find that Chinese cars are far ahead of their counterparts in general, Japanese and Korean cars in particular,” Al-Ghanim said.

Looking to the future, he believes that Chinese cars across the board will continue to see strong growth and by 2022 will have captured 15 percent of the Saudi market, which “in a huge regional market is very good.”

One of the ways to boost sales is physical visibility. In January, Almajdouie built a 2,640-square-meter service center in Riyadh.

“We have had to raise the level of our services to match the high level of Changan cars, as well as to enhance the growing demand for Changan cars in the local market,” Yousef bin Ali Almajdouie, president of Almajdouie Group, said in a press statement at the time.

A report by the China Daily newspaper estimated that around 55,000 Changan cars have been sold in Saudi Arabia up to May this year, but it is not the only Chinese brand that has captured the attention of drivers in the Kingdom.

FASTFACTS

• Last year, despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-10) pandemic, the data showed that sales continued to surge, and at the end of 2020, Changan’s share of the market had risen to 4.3 percent, moving it two places up in the annual car brand rankings to eighth most popular.

• According to data, the carmaker, which is owned by the Chinese state, captured 2.3 percent of the Saudi market in 2019, making it the 10th most popular car brand in the Kingdom just a few years after it was introduced to Saudi drivers.

• An example of the growing popularity of Chinese cars in the Kingdom is the experience of the Changan brand.

Hongqi, one of China’s oldest luxury car brands, this month opened its first sales center in Riyadh, with plans to expand the network to Jeddah and Dammam.

“The market in the Middle East is key for Hongqi. And the Saudi market is crucial in the region,” Ma Zhenduo, general manager of Hongqi’s Middle East division, told Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency. “The sales have exceeded all our expectations across all the models,” said Mohammed Abduljawad, chairman of Universal Motors Agencies, Hongqi’s local partner in Saudi Arabia.

Hatem Khattab, the first marketing manager for FAW Bestune in Saudi Arabia, which sells the Chinese brands FAW, Bestune and Hongqi, told Arab News that the secret to the success of Chinese brands was the combination of price and technology.

“The manufacturers are very good at incorporating the latest technology in their cars. These are economic cars with state-of-the-art technology,” Khattab said. “The reason behind their popularity is their features, and now that they are seen more commonly on the streets, it has had a domino effect. Seeing the cars makes people think they are more reliable. They are affordable as well; we recently had a customer who bought 10 cars just for his family,” he added.

In addition to increased visibility on the roads, Khattab pointed out that Chinese brands also offer more options in terms of the range of models on offer.

“The competition in the automotive market here is huge, and I feel like the Chinese brands stepped up their game to meet the requirement of this cut-throat market. Currently, in Saudi Arabia, we have almost 20-25 Chinese brands as compared to brands of other countries that offer up to 10,” he said. Ramady said engine size was another big catalyst. Western, American, Japanese and South Korean models in the 2,500 to 3,000 cc engine sector still dominate the market, Chinese brands have positioned themselves in the 1,000 to 2,000 cc engine range, which is a growing segment in Saudi Arabia. He believes these models appeal “to a low to middle-income Saudi consumer market, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainties, as well as a new niche market for Saudi female drivers owning their first cars.”

The statistics also back this up, according to Motory.com, one of the largest specialized car websites in Saudi Arabia. “Over the last few years, we have seen Chinese cars become increasingly popular with consumers, especially in Saudi Arabia. Online searches for Chinese cars on our Motory.com website have increased by around 400 percent between 2018 and 2020,” a spokesperson told Arab News.

Chinese carmakers saw exports increase by 103 percent year-on-year in the first five months of this year, according to a report by the South China Morning Post, citing data from the China Passenger Car Association. The way trends are going, many will find their way into Saudi garages and carparks, as the Kingdom continues to be a dominant source market. Fahad Al-Arjani, a member of the Saudi Chinese Business Council, echoed the view that technology was at the key factor, as Chinese brands have been “injecting investments in clean energy cars supported by the smartest technologies.” He pointed to the partnership between technology giant Huawei and the state-owned Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Ltd. (BAIC) as an example.

“In addition to developing a highly efficient battery system, as well as emerging technologies, Huawei and BAIC’s first car will offer level three autonomous driving and will include 5G connectivity, which isn’t necessarily surprising given the Chinese company is a leader when it comes to the rollout of this new standard, which will make Chinese cars highly likely to lead the future of this sector for ages,” he told Arab News.


Gold edges lower as US Treasury yields rise

Gold edges lower as US Treasury yields rise
Updated 18 October 2021

Gold edges lower as US Treasury yields rise

Gold edges lower as US Treasury yields rise

BENGALURU: Gold edged lower on Monday as a rise in US Treasury yields dented its appeal, although a risk-off sentiment in wider financial markets limited losses for the metal.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,765.14 per ounce by 1:35 p.m. EDT (1735 GMT), while US gold futures settled down 0.2 percent at $1,765.70.

“If yields keep rising, the headwinds will remain significant for gold,” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said.

“Unless markets start to price in bad news for the economy and stock markets, which may be a rational next step if policymakers insist on tightening even as the recovery remains sluggish and downside risks significant.”

Sentiment in wider financial markets remained weak as economic growth in China slowed, while a relentless surge in oil prices fueled concerns about elevated inflation.

US benchmark 10-year Treasury yields climbed as investors ramped up rate hike bets, while the dollar index held steady.

While gold is seen as an inflation hedge, it also contends with the greenback for safe-haven status. Reduced central bank stimulus and the prospect of interest rate hikes push government bond yields up, weighing on non-yielding bullion.

Other precious metals also dipped, with silver down 0.3 percent at $23.21 per ounce and platinum slipping 1.8 percent to $1,035.29. Palladium shed 3.3 percent to $2,005.07, its lowest in over a week.


New York makes registration mandatory for crypto lending platforms

New York makes registration mandatory for crypto lending platforms
Updated 18 October 2021

New York makes registration mandatory for crypto lending platforms

New York makes registration mandatory for crypto lending platforms
  • State’s attorney general directs unregistered outlets to cease operations

RIYADH: New York has made it mandatory on cyrptocurrency lending platforms to register with the Office of the Attorney General if they wish to operate in the state or offer their products to New Yorkers.

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday said these steps are aimed to protect New York investors and markets from exploitation by high-risk virtual currency schemes.

The official also ordered the closure of two cryptocurrency lending platforms in New York and three other platforms were directed to provide information about their business.

“Cryptocurrency platforms must follow the law, just like everyone else,” James said.

The move comes weeks after the attorney general won a court order forcing the closure of cryptocurrency exchange Coinseed.

“My office is responsible for ensuring industry players do not take advantage of unsuspecting investors. We’ve already taken action against a number of crypto platforms and coins that engaged in fraud or that illegally operated in New York,” he said.


Saudi Venture Investment Co. launches initiative to support startups

Saudi Venture Investment Co. launches initiative to support startups
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi Venture Investment Co. launches initiative to support startups

Saudi Venture Investment Co. launches initiative to support startups

RIYADH: The Saudi Venture Investment Co. has launched the “Investment in Accelerator Funds and Startup Studios" initiative, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.
It is part of the company’s efforts to support startups in the Kingdom in the seed and pre-seed phases.
SVC has investments worth SR1.1 billion ($293.2 million) in 20 funds.
The company has supported around 116 startups since its establishment in 2018 till the end of the third quarter of 2021.
 


Saudi Arabia sees gasoline, diesel demand rise in 2021

Saudi Arabia sees gasoline, diesel demand rise in 2021
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi Arabia sees gasoline, diesel demand rise in 2021

Saudi Arabia sees gasoline, diesel demand rise in 2021

RIYADH/CAIRO: Average motor and aviation gasoline demand in Saudi Arabia jumped to 470 thousand barrels per day (kbd) in 2021, compared to 455 kbd in 2020, data compiled by Arab News from Jodi revealed.
Calculations made for 2021 were up to August, the year’s latest data point so far.
The data reflects a recovery in gasoline demand as the effects of the pandemic start to taper off. However, the demand is still below the pre-pandemic levels. Average gasoline demand used to cross 500 kbd before 2020 in the Kingdom.
The data for 2021 is incomplete and a 12-month dataset might lead to a different conclusion.
Saudi motor and aviation gasoline demand reached 471 kbd in August, which was a marginal decline from the previous month's 473 kbd. In annual terms, 2021 recorded a 9kbd fall in demand as compared to last year's August, which stood at 480 kbd.
Similarly, the Kingdom’s average diesel demand slightly increased to 497 kbd in 2021, up from 492 kbd in 2020. Nevertheless, it is still below pre-2020 levels. In 2017-19, average diesel demand was above the 520 kbd mark.
Diesel is mainly used by trucks and hence could be roughly used as a gauge for the intensity of goods shipments across the country.
In August, the demand for diesel reached 532 kbd, which was moderately higher than the same month last year by 11 kbd. It was also noticeably greater than the previous month’s demand as it recorded a monthly increase of 41 kbd.


Bitcoin rises near 6-month high, as ETF launch date approaches: Market wrap

Bitcoin rises near 6-month high, as ETF launch date approaches: Market wrap
Updated 18 October 2021

Bitcoin rises near 6-month high, as ETF launch date approaches: Market wrap

Bitcoin rises near 6-month high, as ETF launch date approaches: Market wrap

RIYADH: ProShares is set to launch a Bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, in what would be a first for institutional investors in the US, New York Times reported.

The ETF will provide institutional investors and retail investors exposure to Bitcoin, who cannot legally or do not want direct exposure, through a brokerage account.

“When we have a Bitcoin ETF in the US, billions and billions of dollars will flow into Bitcoin that under no circumstances would have found their way into Bitcoin otherwise,” MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor said.

Stablecoins

Asset-backed stablecoins do not pose a systemic risk to the US financial system and should not face a new set of rules, a major cryptocurrency lobby group told US regulators on Monday, as tighter oversight of the fast-growing technology looms.

Stablecoins — digital tokens usually backed by reserves of dollars or assets from gold to other cryptocurrencies — have ballooned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets — which comprises top US regulators including the Treasury and Federal Reserve — is focusing on them as part of wider efforts to rein in crypto.

The group is widely expected to publish in the coming months a report detailing the risks and opportunities of stablecoins.

Adoption

The Central Bank of Brazil released a report showing that Brazilians have bought more than $4 billion in cryptocurrency imports since the beginning of the year.

The report also shows that Brazilians have consistently earned more than $350 million in cryptocurrencies every month since January.

However, according to some analysts from the central bank, this number is likely to reach twice its value this year.

Brazilians investing in cryptocurrencies abroad are likely to triple the amount invested in American shares, according to Bruno Serra the director of monetary policy of the Central Bank of Brazil.

Crypto regulation

Nasdaq-listed crypto exchange, Coinbase has published its proposal for crypto regulation after more than 75 meetings with stakeholders in government, industry, and academia.

“Today we’re launching our Digital Asset Policy Proposal, which we hope will help chart a course for clear regulation of cryptocurrency and web 3.0 in the US. It’s critical to bring clarity to this space and ensure America remains a financial leader,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong tweeted.

ATMs

Popular BTM Operator, Bitcoin of America, recently announced their newest addition to their Bitcoin ATM machines.

Ethereum is available now for buy and sell at Bitcoin of America ATM locations due to its growing popularity,  it also offers Bitcoin and Litecoin options online and at their BTM locations.

Trading

Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency in trading internationally, traded higher on Monday, rising by 1.62 percent to $61,891 at 6 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether traded at $3,769, down 1.94 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.