(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Around 3,000 hybrid cars are presently running in the Kingdom, with supply expected to significantly increase next year from both car dealers and the free zone, experts said.
According to Nabil Abu Rumman, the president of the Jordan Free Zone Investors Association, out of 48,000 cars imported through the free zone in the first nine months of 2009, a total of 1,800 were hybrid cars.
"With cars sold through automobile dealerships, the number of fuel-economy cars, using both gasoline and electricity, currently on the Kingdom's roads is over 3,000 cars," he said, noting that "2,000 other cars are expected to be cleared from customs before the end of this year due to increasing demand."
He told The Jordan Times on Monday that over the past three years, 55,000 automobiles were imported annually by investors in the free zone and another 15,000 by car agents, expecting the same figure for this year.
"Auto sales increased in the third quarter of this year, reaching 20,000 cars compared to 12,000 in the first three months and 16,000 in the second quarter," he indicated.
Noting that people in Jordan are still hesitant to buy hybrid cars, Abu Rumman expected demand on environment-friendly cars to increase in 2010 because spare parts and maintenance will be available as most automobile manufacturers started to produce such cars.
Nadim Haddad, the marketing and sales manager at the Central Trade and Auto Company which is the agent of Toyota in Jordan, said 80 per cent of the company's sales are hybrid cars.
Haddad added that due to the large demand on Toyota electric-gas cars worldwide, the manufacturing company has yet to ship the required cars to the Jordanian market.
Selling Lexus, Toyota Camry and Toyota Prius, the marketing manager pointed out that the largest demand is on the Camry type, whose prices range between JD30,000 and JD33,000 for new cars, while used ones between JD23,000 and JD27,000.
The battery costs between $4,000 and $5,000 while the price of the electric motor is $7,000, according to Haddad whose Central Trade and Auto Company is among few agencies offering spare parts and maintenance to hybrid cars.
He attributed the expensive prices for spare parts and maintenance to the short period since such cars started to be manufactured (since 1997), expecting the cost to drop in 2010.
Luay Shurafa, the regional manager of General Motors (GM) in the Levant area, said Jordan is the region's first country with demand for hybrid models, noting that 50 cars, representing the first batch of model year 2010 Tahoe hybrids, will arrive in the Jordanian market before the end of this year.
Regarding maintenance and spare parts, Shurafa said GM will provide full support and training tools and parts for each and every vehicle being sold by Abu Khader Automotive, its dealer in Jordan, saying that the dealership will be equipped with spare parts, and technology to service all products including hybrid cars.
"General Motors has invested $70 million in a Middle East parts distribution centre to ensure availability is as fast as 24 hours," he said in an e-mail sent to The Jordan Times.
Shurafa expected hybrid SUV sales to overtake conventional SUV sales in Jordan in the coming few years because buyers will take advantage of low customs fees on hybrid models.
"Customers also want to be associated with green technology due to the increase in environmental awareness, in addition to the increased fuel efficiency a hybrid vehicle offers," he said.
Demand on green cars in Jordan increased recently as customers were concerned that this type of cars will be subject to customs fees, but the Ministry of Finance said it has no plans yet to impose more fees or taxes.
Fees on such cars range between JD1,000 and JD4,000 depending on the size of the engine.
In a previous statement to The Jordan Times, the ministry's Secretary General Ezzeddin Kanakria said that the Environment Ministry requested to only exempt hybrid vehicles under 2000cc from taxes and fees because they are more fuel-efficient and environment-friendly than large-engine hybrids.
By Omar Obeidat