Visitors get latest models, plus financing opportunities

The 2002 Lebanon Motor Show, which opened its doors to the public last week, is vying to be the Middle East's undisputed car exposition by offering a host of new-model cars. To this end, exhibitors are presenting the latest models and showcasing the technologies of tomorrow in an effort to lure potential buyers.&nbsp;<br /><br />The motor show began Thursday at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center. It was co-organized by the Association of Lebanese Car Importers, which groups together 32 local members representing 62 different vehicle manufacturers.<br />

Dec 01, 2002

The event was also partly put together by Promofair, a local exposition firm. The show is divided into several sections stretched across 15,000 square meters of floor space. Three dozen new brands of vehicles were on display, some of which are expected to be on the market by 2004.

One car manufacturer is Toyota, which has attracted attention with its new Formula One race car brought from Japan. Tetsuya Takenaka, Toyota's project general manager for the Middle East, traveled to Lebanon to unveil the high-speed vehicle, as well as a line of Lexus cars.

Sales of Toyota's in Lebanon have grown considerably since last year, with a 50 percent increase, reaching over 1,200 cars sold this year.

Toyota, the third largest car manufacturer in the world, has also imported their Lexus luxury car line to Lebanon.

The company says it wants to attract high-end consumers, competing with rival cars offered by Mercedes and Audi.
According to Takenaka, Toyota is known to be the No. 1 choice for young buyers. For this reason, he said that the firm "finds Lebanon to be one of the best markets because the young are knowledgeable buyers. The future growth of the market is expected to be high and we aim to grow accordingly with it," Takenaka added.

The Japanese car manufacturer is also known for investing in Eco Cars, environment-friendly vehicles which will not hit the Lebanese market for a few years.

"We can help the Lebanese government solve its diesel car problem today through catalytic systems, which are found in all Toyota cars," said Takenaka.

Toyota is one of several car firms in Lebanon that offers buyers such vehicles at cost. "It is our responsibility to ensure that the world's environment is not endangered and we are working with the Lebanese government to find strategies aligned with this goal," he added. Other sections in the show are occupied by the manufacturers of small-and medium-sized trucks and buses. Such commercial vehicles can weigh as much as 10 tons.

The show is also geared toward accessories and spare parts for cars and trucks, car electronics as well as services related to automobiles such as car rentals and taxi operators.

Banks and insurance companies were represented in the show's fourth section, enabling potential buyers to find opportunities to finance and insure their cars.

The reason for the last section is due to the growing trend of Lebanese buying cars through long-term financing from banks.

Organizers of the show, which is set to end on Dec. 1, say they expect to receive over 200,000 visitors. Their objective -apart from displaying the latest range of cars and technologies- is to encourage Lebanese to update high-level pollutant cars to low-level and safer ones.