Iraq May Be The Next Emerging Market
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.
Oh but they had WMD's
The only thing Iraq is good for is producing natural resources for America to pilfer... I mean USE. We can only sell them our products if they have money. In order for them to have money, we have to give them money to build up their infrastructure. We have to invest in them. Problem is, how much money do Americans have to invest in Iraq when America is already bankrupt?
Of potential interest: somebody has a pretty spectacular corner on the market for Iraqi used cars, at least in the Kurdish region. When you buy a car, you have to get a license plate for it, and the government won't give you one if the car is more than two years old. The result of this is that there is basically no used-car market. It's all new cars. From what I can tell, used car dealerships basically don't exist, and folks getting rid of their old cars sell them to exporters who take the vehicles out of country for resale. This probably ties in to efforts to reduce traffic. Car ownership was heavily restricted under Saddam, and so there was pent-up demand. When the US was in charge there everybody who could afford a car bought one. The roads weren't built for that much traffic, though, so there are massive traffic jams all the time. The no-cars-over-two-years-old policy effectively drives prices up again, restricting car ownership to the wealthier folks. I'm sure it gives some well-connected people a nice, captive market of used-car sellers, too.
>Iraq May Be The Next Emerging Market For heavily-armored vehicles...