Qatar’s long-standing love affair with the Toyota Land Cruiser shows no signs of fading any time soon, recent research suggests.
The sports utility vehicle, already omnipresent across Doha in the eyes of many, was the top-selling vehicle here in the first half of 2013, according to figures released by independent data research firm Business Monitor International.
Three other Toyota models also received top marks in Qatar: the Hilux pickup truck, Prado SUV and the Camry sedan. Nissan rounded out the top five with its D22 pickup truck.
Julian White, a sales executive at used car showroom Oasis Cars, told Doha News that Toyota – and, to a lesser extent, Nissan – hold an edge in the local market because their vehicles retain much of their resale value.
This is particularly important in a country such as Qatar, where a large proportion of the population are expats who are uncertain of how long they’ll be staying, he said.
When it comes to particular models, White said the the perceived danger of Doha’s streets drives SUV sales.
“Everybody has the impression that they are safer (in an SUV),” he said, adding that the ability to take larger vehicles on off-road excursions to the desert, as well as take large families on shopping trips, also holds appeal for many Qatari vehicle owners.
While the BMI report focused on new car sales, White said that the Nissan Xterra and X-Trail, Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as the Mitsubishi Pajero and Nativa are among the most popular vehicles on his used car lot.
The salesman, who spent a decade selling cars in the UAE, added that Qatar consumers are more conservative than their Dubai counterparts.
In that city, families would routinely max out their bank loans so a couple could own both a Range Rover and a Porsche, for example, he said.
“People in Dubai drive more fancy cars. Here, people are more sensible with their budget,” White said.
That may be changing, according to the BMI report, which said there is rising demand for ultra-luxury vehicles in Qatar.
While overall first-half auto sales rose 2 percent to 42,400 cars and trucks, several luxury vehicle vendors told bq magazine that they experienced double-digit growth in the first six months of the year.
Alfardan Automobiles reported a 28 percent increase in BMW sales, while Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Doha logged an increase of more than 18 percent.
More than a dozen new Land Cruisers were listed for sale on QatarSale.com on Sunday afternoon, ranging in price between QR158,000 and QR306,000 (US$43,395-US$84,043).
By contrast, there were two gently used Rolls Royce Phantoms listed for sale through the manufacturer’s Doha dealership at QR1.35 million (US$370,778) and QR1.54 million (US$422,961).
Here’s what some Qatar residents said when we asked their thoughts on the best car for Qatar’s roads:
Do you agree? Thoughts?