The demand for used cars in the UAE has grown to such an extent this year that Al-Futtaim Honda has a waiting list for customers opting for old over new.
"We actually cannot place used cars quickly enough," said Mark Kass, the regional managing director at Al-Futtaim Honda. "We are taking forward orders on used cars because people are saying if you can find one at the right price I will buy it."
Mr Kass has "massive hope" for used cars and aims to increase sales threefold next year to make up 15 per cent of total sales.
These plans are not unique to Honda. All the major dealerships have begun to focus on used cars as their next big revenue earner.
This year, there has been a flurry of used-car showroom launches or schemes that offer pre-owned cars approved by the manufacturer. Arabian Automobiles, Al Habtoor Motors and Al Tayer Motors have invested in the market.
Arabian Automobiles, which opened a showroom in March for Nissan, Renault and Infiniti models, conducted a review of the overall UAE market and found that last year just a quarter of the 650 used-car dealers were professional garages affiliated with major manufacturers, while the majority were small independent sellers. Many cars are also sold directly to buyers through websites such as Dubizzle.com.
Buying habits are reflecting the global economic picture and customers are now ready to buy used vehicles rather than overspend.
New car buyers are also becoming more cautious and understanding their limits, Mr Kass said.
"Buying habits are changing in the UAE," he said. "Customers weren't interested in looking in a book of cars before, but now, not only are they prepared to pay a down payment, they'll wait three months for delivery. People are prepared to wait for a car until January. That may be normal with a Bentley, but not with a semi-volume brand."
Honda has created a waiting list for used cars because its Hertz car rental company is also under Al-Futtaim and sells its leased cars every 18 months, effectively guaranteeing Honda a supply.
Honda launched its approved-used-car scheme in June at its Airport Road dealership in Abu Dhabi and plans to extend it across the UAE.
"Because of the shortage of cars, we are focusing more on used cars," Mr Kass said. "We've gone from zero cars sold in June to 30 in October."
Honda still has only 60 per cent of its usual supply after the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that disrupted car production, so the brand has had to come up with initiatives to ease the supply problem. One of these has been the used-car segment.