Dongfeng's M Hero Brand Expands to the Middle East: A Key Step in Globalization

Technology Author: EqualOcean News May 16, 2024 05:47 PM (GMT+8)

According to the latest news from Dongfeng Motor Corporation, the M Hero brand's first model, the M-917, is preparing to enter the Middle East market after successfully launching in Switzerland. The prototype of this model is currently undergoing field testing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), marking its debut in the Middle East and a crucial step in the brand's global expansion.

Dongfeng revealed that the M-917 has successfully passed both EU ECE and Middle East GSO vehicle certifications and is conducting long-term road tests in several target markets worldwide to ensure its reliability and performance in various environments. In March, M Hero's UAE partner ordered the M-917 prototype, which arrived in mid-April and began a month-long multi-terrain test. The prototype demonstrated exceptional performance, easily handling desert, gravel, and urban roads. Dongfeng's strategic cooperation agreement with Huawei also injects new momentum into the brand's international development. The two companies will jointly promote the commercialization of Huawei's smart vehicle solutions, helping M Hero become a leader in China's luxury electric off-road vehicle market.

Over the past decade, the Middle Eastern automotive market has welcomed new competitors from China. Brands like MG, Geely, BYD, Changan, and Omoda have quickly established a presence in the Gulf region with their speed and cost advantages. Chinese automakers have introduced a variety of models and sub-models to the Middle Eastern market, offering high cost-performance ratios that make traditional American and Japanese vehicles appear increasingly expensive to consumers. In recent years, Arab consumers have become more value-conscious, preferring cars with smaller engines over large American vehicles.

Chinese automakers have keenly observed this market shift and introduced several models tailored to local preferences. In Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar, Chinese vehicles are often higher-end and, in some aspects, superior to those available in the European market. Models like the Geely PreFace and the large SUV OKAVANGO, which resemble popular international brands, have been well-received for their high value and similar design.

Data shows that Saudi Arabia, the largest automotive market in the GCC, imported approximately 648,110 vehicles from China over the past five years, with a total value of 36 billion Saudi Riyals. The import volume of Chinese vehicles in Saudi Arabia increased from 48,120 in 2019 to 180,590 in 2023, a growth rate of 275.3%. Saudi Arabia not only serves as a significant import market for Chinese vehicles but also as a logistics hub for re-exporting Chinese cars to neighboring markets like Iraq, Bahrain, and Qatar. From 2019 to 2023, Saudi Arabia re-exported around 2,256 Chinese vehicles, with a re-export value of 514 million Saudi Riyals.

Since 2015, the brand influence of Chinese vehicles in the Saudi market has significantly increased. In the first five months of 2023, Saudi Arabia imported 87,000 Chinese vehicles, making it the sixth largest export destination for Chinese cars globally. Last year, Saudi Arabia imported a total of 570,000 vehicles, with 42% coming from China. Saeed Al-Basami, chairman of the National Automotive Committee at the Saudi Chamber of Commerce, noted that nearly 40% of Saudis now prefer Chinese brands.

Chinese automakers have significantly increased their market share in Saudi Arabia through proactive market strategies, including substantial investments in marketing and after-sales services. This shift not only demonstrates the strength of China's automotive industry but also indicates further expansion in the global market.