AUTOMOBILE MARKET OVERTOOK FORECASTS
The domestic automobile market is still one of the most rapidly developing ones in the world according to current statistics of the Union of Car Importers in Bulgaria (UCIB). Car saIes in January-March 2008 were 14,157, almost 3,000 up from the same period of last year, marking a 26.5% growth.
It's obvious that preliminary forecasts will come true and more than 60,000 new cars will be sold by the year-end. Both automobile dealers and international marketing agencies, such as Business Monitor International, expect annual growth to remain within 20-25% by the year 2012.
Another curious tendency in UCIB's data for March is that Opel became sales leader. Until recently the German unit of General Motors was outside the first three best performers, but reported strong sales last month, reaching a 13% market share, 2% up from Toyota, which was the leader till now. The French Peugeot, which has been the most demanded trade mark on the Bulgarian market for years, fell back to fifth position, following Ford and Volkswagen.
Opel's unusually strong performance can be explained by various factors, including several big orders from State institutions, competitive prices due to the presence of ten official distributors, and the thoroughly renewed range of models recently. The Zafira mini-van attracts an increasing interest with its price starting from just BGN32,500 and the opportunity to use a tax credit. In fact, a number of other car importers have reorientated to that direction and now offer vehicles with seven and more seats ar quite advantageous prices.
A considerable growth in sales was reported as well by several trade marks outside the top ten performers. Such are for instance Nissan (2.54% market share), Fiat, Kia and Suzuki. The Russian Lada maintained its market position with a 2.17% share. However, 306 of all the 307 automobiles sold during the period were Niva SUVs.
Mercedes remained the leader in the luxury segment with 292 sales, followed closely by BMW with 236 sales and Audi (214 sales).