Iraq hasn’t had anything noteworthy in the automotive space since the Iraqi Taxi debacle of the 1980’s, but with a population larger than Saudi Arabia, substantial oil reserves and increasing stability, Iraq is becoming a new target for automakers eager to sell cars to a population that’s been barred from Western vehicles due to international sanctions.
General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford have all praised Iraq in Automotive News in various terms. One former Chrysler exec has recently set up two Chrysler showrooms in Iraq, despite having to endure collateral damage from terror attacks, in the belief that Iraq’s middle class represents a ripe market that will soon be ready to buy cars en masse. Some of the Iraqi Chrysler stores have the same problems as American stores – the lack of an entry-level, fuel efficient vehicle for example. Others, like being unable to visit the Baghdad flagship, aren’t the kind of thing that would occur in Peoria. Iraq is still fairly unstable, with unemployment rates approaching 40 percent according to some estimates. But with the Baghdad Chrysler store selling 400 cars last year, there may be room for future growth in such a marketplace.