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Regional car market is rebounding slowly, but needs another five years.

Byline: Sunil K. Vaidya

Automobile market in ME picking up

Muscat The car market in the Middle East is gradually picking up but it is unlikely to gallop in 2010, according to a top executive of an American automobile giant.

"The year 2008 was the best for carmakers in the Middle East for a long time and then it went down last year, but it seems to be improving," John V. Rodencal, managing director for Chrysler Group in the Middle East, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the launch of new Dodge Challenger on Saturday night at the Muscat Grand Hyatt.

He said that the American group saw a dip of 31 per cent in their market during 2009 in the Middle East. "We sold 15,000 units in 2008 whereas the numbers came down to 10,252 in 2009," he said.

According to him the entire automobile industry went through the wringer. However, he was quick to add: "The worse is over." Rodencal reckons that the market will reach the highs of 2008 in the next five years and could even better that figure.

"We have decided to come with innovative products throughout 2010 to capture the market share further," he added.

The two-door Dodge Challenger, he pointed out, was in line with the Chrysler Group's solid, well-thought-through plans in place for the future. "The new Dodge Challenger SRT8 is just the beginning of a new chapter that will see us continuing to bring exciting, innovative and technologically advanced new products to all segments of the market in the years to come," he added.

Developed by Chrysler's in-house performance engineering organisation, the 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8 was engineered with a focus on the five pillars of every SRT vehicle: A bold exterior design that resonates the brand image, a race-inspired interior, world-class ride and handling across a dynamic range with a standout power train and reliable breaking.

The Chrysler Group has two dealers in Oman u Zubair Automotive and Shanfari Automotive. "The arrangement has worked out well for us and both dealers are doing well in promoting our car models," he said.

As one of the company's key markets, Oman offers further great potential for its brands, and the on-going commitment of Zubair and Shanfari will ensure that its market share continues to grow, he said.

Model features

The 425 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque delivered by SRT's 6.1 litre HEMI V8 engine represents the highest naturally aspirated specific-output V8 engine ever offered by the Chrysler Group. Its 69.8 horsepower-per-litre rating exceeds even that of the 1966 "Street HEMI."

The exterior styling cues are unmistakably Dodge, with proportions that evoke a bold, instantly recognisable vehicle that has a wide, stable stance on the road. A full-width grille and fog lamps, reminiscent of the original Challenger, are married to the modern "Dodge performance attitude."

The result is an aggressive face that is unmistakably a muscle car. The bonnet u with a raised centre and functional dual scoops u stays true to the Dodge Challenger heritage, as does the A-line and beltline.

"The Dodge Challenger SRT8 has the looks, performance and unique presence that have been long missing in Oman u I know that it will capture the imagination of drivers throughout the Sultanate as it has all over the world, and is set to bring a whole new dimension of driving pleasure to our customers here," pointed out Rodencal.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Mar 9, 2010
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