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Manufacturers in sprint to tune up their SUV line-up

The next two years will be interesting

Gulf News


If the UAE’s SUV market needed to close the year on a high, the launch of the 2013 Range Rover has given a 375 hp, 5.0 litre supercharged lift. The initial delivery schedules will build up nicely towards the end of the year and then move into higher gear in the first quarter.

There is more all-wheel drive action beyond the Land Rover flagship. Chrysler has ridden the SUV wave over the last two years through its legacy line-up, with the Jeep Wrangler putting in another vanguard turn.

“For the 2013 model year, engineers focused their attention on interior ergonomics and 4x4 capability,” said Neil Tyrer, corporate communications manager at Chrysler M.E. “The entire Jeep range continues to perform very well across the region, and at the end of 2013 we will launch the Jeep Cherokee, a totally new model that will herald the next generation of vehicles. “2013 will also see the introduction of the refreshed Jeep Compass with a six-speed automatic transmission.”

None of this means Chrysler does not have anything to cheer about in the present. Jeep sales in the first nine months of this year – 6,671 units - have already gone past the full-year tally for 2011, when it did 4,839 units.

Followers of another longstanding favourite – the Mitsubishi Pajero – will have to wait a further 18 months or so to get a completely redone version. “This year’s model was limited to just soft changes, including on the lighting systems, but the model remains the biggest selling Mitsubishi model for us with a plus 40 per cent share,” said Joe Rogan at Al Habtoor Motors.

While it came into the SUV game relatively late, Audi now has a settled line-up with the recent addition of the Q3 alongside the established Q7 and the Q5. “We remain extremely positive about the Q7 moving into 2013 and it will continue to remain one of the core models in our portfolio for the coming years,” said Felix Weller of Audi Middle East. “The new Q7 is expected for the second quarter of mid-2015.”

It would take a Recession-type of jolt to get local buyers and their regional counterparts to distance themselves from a SUV purchase. Even then, such a mindset will not last beyond a year or two. Auto manufacturers and their dealers can count on that.

“Manufacturer supply will no doubt be affected by the larger global picture as oil prices continue to rise,” said Pascal Persoon of Autodata M. E. “For this region, petrol prices remain relatively low compared to other areas all the time.”

In other words, “The big gas guzzlers will remain popular here.”