Will eco-friendly cars ever become popular in a country that prefers status symbol models like BMW’s, Mercedes Benz and even Maserati’s? Not according the AFP which reported on the country’s annual Motor Show which opened in Beirut last week. Spot interviews with Lebanese who were in attendance clearly indicated that of the 400 models in display, the most attention was being given to high priced “glitz-mobiles” including a $300,000 Limited Edition Maserati MC Sport, one of only 15 in existence and definitely not very eco-friendly (12 were produced for Middle Eastern markets).
Hybrid models, such as Toyota’s Prius, are considered to be much more eco-friendly than normal, all-fossil fuel models; and are increasing in popularity in neighboring Israel. But they didn’t catch the eyes of the Lebanese who don’t see hybrids matching any kind of status they seek.
Lebanon is a country that has to import virtually all its energy supplies, and on which increasing environmental damage is occuring from ground and sea pollution. So taking all of Lebanon’s energy needs and pollution problems into account, why do the citizens of a country with an average per capita GDP of $6,500 (4,837 Euros) prefer high powered status cars like the ones already mentioned?
“If we manage to waive customs for these cars, at least half of the next Motor Show will be dedicated to hybrids,” Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud told AFP while touring the biennial expo.
The only green however car drivers in Lebanon want to be connected to is green with envy. To quote Mr. Riyadh Abi Habib, a Lebanon manager for Toyota and Lexus:
“Buyers are generally looking to purchase cars to be seen in. Hybrids like the Prius don’t currently sell like other cars here, primarily because they are pricier than your average small car and yet are not considered status symbols.”
Status symbol car purchasing is not a new phenomenon as America and European countries went through this consumer stage more than 30 years ago.
Besides, with 12 out of the 15 above Maserati’s destined for Middle Eastern buyers, and in light of my recent Green Prophet article on the White Gold Mercedes owned by a Billionaire in Abu Dhabi, what can you expect from young Lebanese professionals like Tareq Saadeh, a 25-year-old engineer, who prefers “to remain loyal to his BMW Sport Coupe: “a fast sports car for my age.”
Fast or not, Lebanese can ill afford gas guzzling high-line status cars while their country still recovers from the ravages of pollution and regional war.
More articles on environmental issues involving automobiles:
Abu Dhabi’s White Gold “bio-fuel” Mercedes Gulf Nations Look to Tesla’s Electric Roadster to Speed Around the Middle East
Does Israel Really Need the INFINITI Luxury Car?
[Image via www.auto-power-girl.com]