GCC light vehicle sales are expected to rise 3 per cent in 2014, according to research by IHS, a US-based global market, industry and technical information provider.

The company forecasts sales to reach 1.53 million in 2014, increasing to 1.57 million in 2015 and 1.63 million in 2016.

The region’s top-selling brands in 2012 were Toyota (which had 37 per cent of total sales), Hyundai (12 per cent), Nissan (7.3 per cent), Kia (5.6 per cent) and Chevrolet (4.6 per cent).

Toyota remained the market leader in 2013, selling 691,631 cars across the Middle East, a yearly rise of 10 per cent. Its Camry model remained one of the most popular cars for consumers in the GCC and Yemen market, crossing the 1 million mark since it was introduced to the market in 1992.

“We think that the top brands will remain more or less the same, with Toyota possibly losing some market penetration and some others gaining some market share,” says Pierluigi Bellini, IHS’ associate director of EMEA vehicles sales forecasts.

“Competition – from especially Korean, but also European and American original equipment manufacturers – is increasingly targeting Middle Eastern markets. Of course Toyota still has a competitive advantage as it knows the local markets/ consumers very well, hence we are expecting some, but not major market share losses.”

Western brands such as Renault and Ford have managed to grow their presence in the Middle East over the past year, with sales increasing 19 per cent (55,517 units) and 12 per cent (over 85,000 units) respectively in 2013.

Luxury and sport utilities vehicles also continued to appeal to consumers, with Jaguar Land Rover posting a 36 per cent increase between April 2013 to March 2014, Lincoln sales in the Middle East up 50 per cent in 2013, and Infiniti sales having risen 29 per cent in 2013.