2016 Car Sales Continue to Set Records

Cars brought on cargo ships, imported from abroad, seen parked at the port in the Southern Israeli town of Ashdod, before being transported away for sale. June 23, 2014. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90 *** Local Caption *** îëåðéåú áðîì àùãåã éáåà
Cars brought on cargo ships, imported from abroad, seen parked at the port of Ashdod. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Israel continues its drive toward a record for car imports in 2016. As of July 31 more than 192,000 vehicles had been imported, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported. That’s a 15- percent increase over the number of vehicles imported in the first seven months of 2015, which was itself a record-breaking year for car imports.

At this rate, industry experts say that over 300,000 vehicles could be sold this year, compared to 256,000 in 2015. Taken over a three-year period, the amount spent on vehicles between 2013 and 2016 is expected to have reached NIS 115 billion by the end of this year – a sum that would constitute 11.5 percent of Israel’s GDP, the CBS said.

The reasons for the phenomenon: A relatively weak dollar, which has been trading in the area of NIS 3.85/dollar so far this year, as well as super-low interest rates that are allowing many dealers, especially of less popular and smaller vehicles, to offer interest-free financing, with the dealership picking up the 2 percent or so interest payments due for the loans. The massive car imports are also good news for less affluent Israelis, who now have a greater choice of used cars at cheaper prices, the CBS said.

According to the statistics, Hyundai leads the pack among nameplates, with 27,700 vehicles delivered so far this year, 27 percent more than in the first six months of 2015. Hyundai is followed by Kia, with 24,800 vehicles delivered. In third place is Toyota, with 19,800 delivered. Other top nameplates popular with Israelis include Skoda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki, Renault and Chevrolet, rounding out the top ten imports.