By on November 12, 2012

Iraqis call the Dodge Charger ‘Obama’. And why not.

After taking you to JapanPuerto RicoPoland and Australia, today we’re flying to Iraq. Well figuratively.

Not too keen on Baghdad? That’s ok. You can travel to 170 other countries and territories in my blog. Or today I can offer you the 264 best-selling models in the USA in October 2012. Every single one of them.

Where were we?

Iraq.

The kingdom of General Motors and Chrysler… Yes sir.

Business Monitor International recently picked Iraq as one of the Top 10 ‘Emerging engines of growth’ in the Automotive industry, a wonderful pun to say that, really, well car sales are increasing there. I wish I had come up with that pun myself. Maybe one day…

So last year General Motors was the #1 manufacturer in Iraq, up 68 percent year-on-year to 32,000 of the total 90,000 estimated new vehicle sales in the country that year. You can see the last Iraq article on my blog here.

In 2012 General Motors is doing well too, but Iraq Business News says ‘rising incomes and safer streets are fueling demand for new cars such as Chrysler‘s Dodge Charger, nicknamed “Obama” after the U.S. president by Iraqis’. Interesting…

Iran Khodro Samand

But another interesting successful manufacturer in Iraq given the two countries’ tumultuous history to say the least is Iran Khodro, one of two Iranian car manufacturers, which simply and squarely manufactures the Samand there. How it works with the US embargo imposed on business with Iranian companies is something I haven’t got my head around yet so if someone in the know could comment I would love to hear from you. Business Monitor International says 30,000 Samands will come out of the Iran Khodro Iraqi factory in 2012 which, if they are all sold in Iraq, could make the model the best-selling car in the country with 25% market share.

Saipa Tiba

For its part Saipa, Iran’s other car manufacturer, has announced in March this year it is investing in a local assembly plant with an annual capacity of 120,000 vehicles.

With a population of more than 30 million people and a growing economy, Iraq’s auto market has “huge potential,” said Stefan Mecha, VW’s managing director for the Middle East. Predictions for new cars sales in Iraq in the Full Year 2012 stand at 120,000 vehicles, a good 33% above 2011 sales. And demand could get much bigger over the next few years.

For example, IHS Automotive says ‘in neighboring Saudi Arabia, which has a population slightly smaller than Iraq’s, there are about 6.5 million registered cars’. That’s about five times the estimated 1.35 million vehicles in Iraq, according to Hamid Algharbawi, owner of a high-end car dealership in Baghdad.

Iraq holds “a lot of promise,” said Larry Prein, Ford’s managing director for the Middle East. Ford expects sales to double this year after tripling to 2,000 in 2011. GM plans to invest in new showrooms and service centers in Iraq after initially entering the market in 2003 by selling to the government, U.S. forces and aid organizations, said John Stadwick, head of GM’s Middle East operations.

The Chinese are also slowly but surely getting installed in Iraq, with Foton recently announcing the construction of a new assembly plant in the Iraqi city of Sulamaniyah, says Business Monitor International.

You can see the article about General Motors and 2011 Iraq car sales here.

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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