At
just-auto, we pride ourselves on the depth and breadth of content available to
you, the end user and fellow industry professional. Our global outlook means looking
at small markets as well as large ones. We have all seen how events in the Middle
East have taken a turn for the worse lately. Aside from the human costs, all apects
of economic activity in the region will be harmed by continuing uncertainty and
the atmosphere of crisis, including the auto industry. We hope that peace will
win out in the end. This feature looks at the state of the auto market in Israel.

Last week, Delek Motors,
one of the leading car importers in Israel, launched the Mazda Premacy, a small
Mini Van. “According to our philosophy there will be a lot of versions,” said
Gil Agmon Delek Motors CEO with a light smile. He knew, as everybody else, that
the Mazda Premacy will be sold in one version only: 1.8 L, automatic, ‘fully
equipped’ as he likes to say, which means 4 electric windows, electric side
mirrors, 4 Air bags, ABS, electric sun roof, etc. Of course, in Japan and Europe
you are able to find some more versions of that model but not in Israel, a country
where the rarity of versions contribute to their success in the market.

The Israeli car market is
booming this year with increase of some 30% in sales to over 120,000 new vehicles
in the first 9 months of the year.
It
comes after 3 years of low sales and without growth. There are a lot of reasons
for that surge but two obvious reasons are the strength of the Israeli currency,
which was up against the Euro by almost 20% in the last 12 months and the rapid
growth of the Hi-Tech industry where every new programmer gets a new car, mostly
Mazda Lantis (323).

Mazda
Lantis

During the
90s, after the decline of Subaru and the rise and fall of Mitsubishi, Mazda
became the most popular car in Israel and in the first 8 months of 2000 it sold
15,105 (13.8% market share) vehicles including 10,105 Lantis. Hyundai is in
second place with 8,981 vehicles and Renault is 3rd with 8,870 vehicles. Mazda
Lantis is of course the most popular car followed by Hyundai Accent and Toyota
Corolla (some normality for the European reader…).

But the most remarkable
shift in the market was the strength of the European manufacturers. This came
about because there is no local manufacturer in Israel, and the car market is
heavily influenced by the exchange rate. So after the dramatic decline of European
currencies against the Israeli Shekel, European cars became relatively cheap
and were able to increase their market share from 39.10% in the first 8 months
of ’99 to 46.6% for the same period this year. Accordingly, the market share
of Japanese cars dropped from 41.9% to 31.4%.

Ford
Focus

Those numbers enabled the
new Ford Motor Company dealer in Israel to launch the Ford Focus very aggressively.
The new dealer is Delek Motors, the same dealer as for Mazda, so you won’t find
a lot of versions of Focus and all of them with 1.6L engine. Delek Motors sold
over 5,000 Ford vehicles to August 2000 and will finish the year with record
sales for Ford since its inception in Palestine-Israel in 1936. The Focus will
probably finish the year in 5th place among the popular cars.

So the Israeli car market
is booming but with the current crisis in the Hi-Tech industry and the Mid-East
crisis no one can tell for how long.

Brands
to 8/2000

1.
Mazda
15,105
13.82%
2.
Hyundai
8,981
8.21%
3.
Renault
8,870
8.11%
4.
Volkswagen
8,548
7.82%
5.
Toyota
6,721
6.15%
6.
Fiat
5,982
5.47%
7.
Mitsubishi
5,604
5.13%
8.
Peugeot
5,295
4.84%
9.
Ford
5,199
4.76%
10.
Citroen
4,635
4.24%

Source: Data
by the association of cars importers in Israel

Popular
Cars to 8/2000

1.
Mazda Lantis
10,946
2.
Hyundai Accent
4,646
3.
Toyota Corolla
4,511
4.
Fiat Punto
4,426
5.
Ford Focus
3,420
6.
Suzuki Baleno
2,969
7.
Renault Megane
2,958
8.
Volkswagen Golf
2,780
9.
Daweoo Lanos
2,729
10.
Renault Clio
2,494

Source: Data
by the association of cars importers in Israel

Author: Ya’acov
Zalel
http://www.autonews.co.il/