Saudi vehicle sales could rise with new women drivers

Saudi auto market likely to benefit from women drivers.

The removal of the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia, set for June 2018, is likely to open up an entirely new market for automakers in the short and long term, according to  IHS Markit's forecast.

With around 10 million women over the age of 20 in Saudi Arabia and some 6.5 million of them in the 20-49 age group, many women will not only own vehicles for the first time but may also influence fuel and lubricants choice.

The landmark Saudi decision will have an impact is on families' disposable income as many of them have, until now, employed male chauffeurs. Increased disposable income will, in turn, boost car sales, petrol, lubricants and insurance.

Saudi's struggling vehicle market has seen light-vehicle sales decline by 12.2% in 2016 to 706,100 units. In the first seven months of 2017, automotive sales totalled around just 300,000 units, a 28% year-on-year downturn.

Markit forecasts that the removal of the driving ban, along with an improvement in medium-term oil prices, will play an important role in lifting the kingdom’s light-vehicle sales to more than 850,000 units by 2021–22.

Sedans and SUVs are expected to gain the most as they have traditionally been favoured by Saudi buyers.