Car Sales Down in July; Blame the War

July was not a bumper month for car sales. Operation Protective Edge has put a damper on the Israeli economy.

Moshe Cohen,

New cars
New cars
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Operation Protective Edge has put a damper on the Israeli economy, although the fundamentals are still strong, say economists. The latest evidence of that: Figures for July, as the war raged for most of the month, show new car sales lower than they were a year earlier, but still robust.

Officials at Israel's car import agencies said that 18,466 new cars were bought by Israelis in July – less than the 21,000 purchased a year earlier, but not as bad as some officials had feared.

The lower number is due to a slackening off of new car purchases by car rental agencies, who decided to cut back in tandem with the fewer number of tourists coming to Israel and renting cars, due to the war. Another factor was the reluctance of some importers to bring vehicles into the country right now. New cars are generally shipped to and stored at Ashdod Port, which has been on of Hamas' top targets for rocket attacks.

With that, new car sales for 2014 are still ahead of those for 2013 – with current sales outstripping 2013's by a 15.4% annual rate. The best sellers so far this year are Hyundai models, followed by Toyota, Kia, Mazda, and Skoda cars.