Egyptian automobile sales fell an annual 30 per cent to 176,157 vehicles in 2011, the latest report from the Automotive Marketing Information Council (AMIC) shows.
The overall drop was driven by a fall in passenger car sales, down to 133,165 in 2011, a third less than the year before, according to statistics released by AMIC on Wednesday.
Egypt’s only listed automobile maker, GB Auto, managed to outperform the market by selling 42,924 vehicles, a 19 per cent drop on 2010.
The firm manufactured around a quarter of the total number of new cars sold in Egypt in 2011.
Investment bank Beltone Financial attributed GB Auto's better performance to buyers' new preference for economically-priced cars.
"GB Auto['s performance] was expected given that 2011 was a difficult year for the market in general and buyers would prefer to keep away from the higher-end categories," a note from Beltone explained.
The report shows Egypt's top-selling brands as Hyundai, Chevrolet and KIA – all Korean/Egyptian assembled vehicles – which are aimed at middle-income customers and make up nearly half the new car market.
Ghabbour, the agent and assembler of Hyundai vehicles in Egypt, increased its share of the passenger car market to 32 per cent, up from 28 per cent in 2010.
"Hyundai sales picked up when they introduced three new models with attractive features and competitive pricing. Also, Hyundai is always available, there are no supply problems or waiting lists like with other brands," explained Mohamed El-Fouly, an analyst at Beltone Financial.
Some higher-end car makers like Mercedes and Volkswagen all saw sales decline by as much as 50 per cent.
Foreign exchange risk will be the greatest challenge for car makers in 2012, Beltone added.
Egypt's car market depends on imports, both of complete cars and parts for their assembly, making it especially vulnerable to currency fluctuations
The Egyptian pound has fallen 3.6 per cent since January 2011, and now sits at just over LE6 to the US dollar.