This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/19/2017

Overview

Saudi Arabia is the largest auto and auto parts market in the Middle East, accounting for an estimated 40 percent of all vehicles sold in the region. Saudi Arabia imported approximately 1 million vehicles (passenger cars, commercial vehicles and light trucks) in 2016. The Kingdom is the  largest importer of U.S. automotive products and parts in the region, with some of these imports being re-exported. Currently, there is a small amount of local auto parts and truck production, but no light vehicle production.  The majority of vehicles and parts sold in the country are imported. Aftermarket parts for off-road vehicles and SUV’s have excellent potential in Saudi Arabia. About 12 million vehicles roam the Kingdom’s roads on a daily basis. To be successful, manufacturers have to provide full support for dealers in terms of advertising, sales, and customer service, and training.

The Saudi government is seeking to develop a domestic automotive industry, and has encouraged global vehicle manufacturers to establish local operations in an effort to create jobs for Saudi’s growing youth and facilitate the transfer of technology and skills. Saudi Arabia’s industrial standards and conformity assessments are a significant market barrier for U.S. exporters.

The Saudi Arabia Standards Organization (SASO) has issued numerous industry standards and regulations that create burdensome documentation and complicated import requirements that result in customs clearance delays and enforcement inconsistencies. Most used auto parts cannot be imported into Saudi Arabia, but reconditioned engine and transmission parts are exempt if they comply with certified standards. Enforcement of intellectual property protection and anti-counterfeiting measures are improving in the Kingdom. SASO has directed manufacturers and their agents in the Kingdom to strictly follow new safety regulations for new cars to be marketed in the Kingdom beginning in 2017. SASO stated that safety standards should conform to the guidelines set out in the GCC technical regulations for automobiles. Under these new regulations, front –seat air bags for passengers, smart braking system and anti-lock brakes are required.

In 2014, SASO signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with a large number of light vehicle manufacturers to establish Saudi corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard. The first stage of the Saudi CAFE applies on all imported light vehicles, new or used. The Saudi CAFE system’s aim is to improve the fuel economy average of light vehicles across the Kingdom by four percent annually, from the current level of 12 km per liter of fuel to more than 19 km per liter by 2025.

Saudi Customs has a mandatory directive applicable to all imported products that requires country of origin marking, either by embossing/engraving or a non-removable label (marking on packaging material is insufficient).

Certificate of Origin must include similar information and is required for all shipments arriving at Saudi ports. In addition, Saudi Customs requires that imported cars and other light vehicles shouldn’t have a manufacturing date in excess of five (5) years. For big/heavy trucks, it requires manufacturing date of less than 10 years. The Saudi Customs requires that imported cars and other light vehicles cannot have manufacturing date older than five years and big/heavy trucks cannot have a manufacturing date older than 10 years. The Saudi Customs also prohibits the importation of salvaged cars and vehicles formerly used as police/emergency cars, taxies, and rental cars.

Opportunities

The drop in the price of oil has resulted in government budget cuts, and the government has increased gas prices. However, this price increase has not affected car prices. The Saudi Government is working on legislation to create a healthy balance of SUVs and passenger vehicles (Saudi roads are awash with SUVs). The Saudi government is also working on an incentive program for dealers to encourage them to import fuel efficient vehicles, such as sedans and mid-size SUV’s.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

There are good opportunities for U.S. companies in the following sub-sectors:
  • Tires and tubes
  • Workshop tools
  • Service equipment
  • Body and chassis parts
  • Automobile transmission and drive train and spare parts
  • Automotive chemicals, lubricants, oils, adhesives
  • Car batteries
  • Maintenance and diagnostic equipment
  • Brakes and emission systems tools
  • Car accessories, electronics & electrical components

Web Resources

For more information on opportunities in this sector, please contact the following Commercial Specialists at the U.S. Commercial service in Saudi Arabia:

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Saudi Arabia Automotive Trade Development and Promotion