Geely and other Chinese auto brands have pushed past the 10 per cent market share in the UAE. How much further can they go - and how soon? Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Chinese car brands have cleared one important milestone – to get a combined market share of more than 10 per cent in the UAE.

“It’s closer to 14 per cent, I think, based on the data that’s available with us carmakers and local dealerships,” said Alex Gu, General Manager, Geely Auto Middle East. “There are still a few Chinese carmakers that do not share their sales numbers, but what we can see is that taken together we now have a double-digit share of the UAE market. It’s the same in Saudi Arabia.

“What makes it interesting is that this shift from 1 per cent share to 14 per cent in the UAE happened quite rapidly, much of which in the last 2-3 years.”

Gu’s right, of course. Because that’s when the great slotting into place of China’s top automotive brands with leading dealerships in the UAE unfolded. Geely, for instance, signed up with AGMC, which, incidentally, also lists BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce in its stable.

Along with having new dealer-partners, the Chinese auto brands is also getting a lot of things right on the 3 Ps – product, price and promotion - to get the desired visibility. Because the UAE and Gulf auto markets can be pretty severe to those manufacturers who get their sums all wrong.

“From 1% to 14%, Chinese car brands have moved pretty fast on UAE market share. But we are just getting started…” says Alex Gu, General Manager, Geely Auto Middle East. Image Credit: Supplied

While it’s a given that Chinese carmakers would get the pricing just right, they have also been getting a lot of things right on the product quality side of things. And in the promotions. (As new car buyers were getting watchful about prices and rates on their auto loans, Geely and its peers were working on making the cost of ownership as accessible as possible. And by throwing in extended warranties and the like.)

“We brought in four models last year, and we are good to add another three this year,” said Gu. “Where we see real potential in breaking through is on the hybrid vehicles.

“Right now, fleet operators such as Dubai Taxi have extensive Camry and Sonata hybrids. But so far, I don’t think hybrid demand has caught on with individual buyers beyond a niche. That could change, and that’s where we are going to focus a lot of attention on.

“We are still studying the UAE and Gulf markets to see what’s missing when it comes to boosting hybrid demand. And what we can do to fill such a gap – if the gap exists.”

The way Gu sees it putting Geely’s considerable weight behind hybrids – and not on its EVs – in the GCC can pay off. “The way we see it, EV demand will take longer to develop, because this market still needs different price points in that space,” he added. “That’s going to take time, and there will always be the question of how far one can go on one charge.

Plus, of course, the right promotional offers.

For Geely and Gu, it’s all in the 3Ps…