Interviews – Tires & Parts News https://tiresandparts.net Your News Source for Everything Automotive Fri, 21 Feb 2020 04:56:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.8 Interview with Ramamurthy P. Rao, Head of R&D and Quality, Al Muqarram Auto Spare Parts Trading LLC https://tiresandparts.net/news/interview-with-ramamurthy-p-rao-head-of-rd-and-quality-al-muqarram-auto-spare-parts-trading-llc/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/interview-with-ramamurthy-p-rao-head-of-rd-and-quality-al-muqarram-auto-spare-parts-trading-llc/#respond Thu, 06 Feb 2020 06:49:42 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=29845 Can you tell us more about your background and the role you play at A-MAP? How did you became a part of the automotive industry? – I joined the automotive battery industry straight after my graduation in Engineering and have been here ever since. I had the good fortune of being trained and working with […]

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  • Can you tell us more about your background and the role you play at A-MAP?
    How did you became a part of the automotive industry? – I joined the automotive battery industry straight after my graduation in Engineering and have been here ever since. I had the good fortune of being trained and working with the global best in the lead acid batteries business and have had extensive exposure to both the Eastern and Western philosophies of the manufacture of automotive batteries for over two decades. Besides setting up and running battery plants successfully, the experience of working very closely with almost all the major auto makers helped me to gain a vast insight into customer needs and their expectations both in terms of the product and service.  This was the motivation for me to transition to a role which puts me closer to the consumer and deliver a value proposition to all the valued clientele of the organization that I am now in, Al Muqarram.  At A-MAP, I play the role of being a facilitator and a vital link connecting both the ends of the business chain, and my Tech Center here in Dubai helps the designers and manufacturers to understand the customer and in the bargain develop and deliver products that get appreciated and help us build brands. It doesn’t just stop there. In line with the vision of my management to be the preferred partner to both buyers and suppliers, my role is to ensure that we succeed in our mission to add value to the businesses of our stakeholders by helping them to set up systems in their businesses in any part of the globe, which delivers Quality and Service to all the end consumers of the products and the brands that we believe in.
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    1. The automotive industry is evolving at a very rapid pace. How important is the role of research and development in such a scenario at the global level?
      Innovation and development have always been the cornerstone of the automotive industry. This is evident in the progress the world has seen so far and how it has converted the whole globe into one single market place with the economies of countries linked so closely to the fate and fortune of the automotive industry.

     

    1. What percentage of the budget at A-MAP is devoted to research and development involving new and improved products?
      “Trust Quality-Trust A-MAP” defines our core philosophy, and for an auto parts trading company which is not in the realm of direct manufacturing, to invest in R&D in this region is unique and a first by itself. We plough in substantial portion of our revenues in not only development of products and accessories, but also in understanding and building localized services at our client business locations. Our understanding of the business and the dynamic nature of customer requirements, help create focused projects at our Tech Center with not only our associate manufacturers but also with the R&D’s of auto majors who would use our knowledge and facilities for their internal development, which is a revenue model for us too.  Focus on application engineering and applied R&D serves as a very crucial tool for us to remain ahead of our competition.

     

    1. How do you prioritize what to develop next as part of the research process?
      Customer forms the basis of all our activities, and customer requirements generally drive our projects.  Stated and unstated demands of customers are all considered when we conceptualize and initiate any project. Being directly in contact with the end consumer, our associate manufacturers and their R&D’s use our Tech Center for all their field research activities and testing processes too. Based on our continuous assessment of current and future trends in the market, we devise projects on which we work jointly with our suppliers.

     

    1. For those of our readers who are curious about the R&D process, how long does the development of a new product take? Do you work on the basis of feedback from customers?
      New products or for that matter even product upgrades would take anywhere from 6 to 24 months to hit the retailer shelves, going through the various stages from development of concept through to design, prototype, testing and finally production. In our industry, field testing would normally contribute to a substantial portion of the project lead time in the whole cycle.  As in any R&D, focused on end user applications, customer requirements form the basis for most of our development work, but the dynamic nature of the business and cross-industry technological developments keep us busy with the need to constantly innovate and improve product offerings.

     

    1. In this region, motorists experience extreme temperatures and a diverse range of terrains. How much effort is made to ensure that the products you make, especially the batteries are localized and suitable for use in the Middle East?
      We draw strength from our management’s belief in delivering a quality experience to all our consumers. This keeps us motivated to adhere to the Deming Cycle of Quality in all our activities.  All auto parts in general and batteries in particular are subjected to the toughest conditions of actual performance in the Middle East region. It is true that for batteries, both extreme temperatures and high usage have deleterious effects on performance life.  This has been both a challenge and an opportunity for us.  A deep understanding of the product and manufacturing process coupled with the understanding of local requirements among the wide diaspora of customer ethnicities have helped us to make customized changes in our products and the way they are manufactured to improve performance parameters specific for use in ME.  We have focused on continual, incremental changes which have helped us to not only improve our customer experience, but also to bring down our claim ratio to one of the lowest in the region. Another very crucial aspect of our business is Application/Use-Abuse of products, so we also dedicate a significant amount of time and efforts in Customer (our distributors/retailers) education and their team development. To this effect, we conduct workshops both in our in-house training center or at customer locations in any of the countries they operate. Today, we can proudly say that A-MAP is being benchmarked for its systems/processes and customer handling, especially in UAE and MENA region.

     

    1. The issue of gray and fake parts is a serious one in this region. How does A-MAP ensure that the company’s products are of the highest quality?
      This is the bane of auto industry in this region. We as an organization work on this issue with a two pronged approach :

      1. Internal Approach : All the products and brands that we deal with are sourced from only the global best and reputed OE manufacturers who are certified to the highest Quality System standards and work very closely with our technical teams in product development and quality control. We audit our supplier processes periodically and ensure fool-proofing of NC areas. Our marketing team works in tandem with the manufacturers in developing markets, building and propagating our brands.  The extreme focus on brand equity keeps us motivated to ensure Quality First always.  Every product goes through a clearly defined quality control process right from Incoming inspection to PDI at all our warehouses.  We have dedicated finishing lines in our warehouses to ensure Quality is delivered to every single customer.
      2. External Approach: We work closely with all the local government & regulatory bodies, wherever our products are marketed to ensure that every product is certified as per local statutory requirements before delivering the same to the market. We ensure that our products meet all the local standards specific to each country, be it GSO, SASO, DGSM, SABS etc.

     

     

    1. Electric vehicles are gaining growing traction in this market and in other markets across the globe. Does A-MAP have any products for this segment?
      We are already working on products in the realm of advanced vehicles like ISS and HEVs.  We have definite plans to be part of the future in battery technology for both PHEVs and PEVs.

     

    1. What would you say is the logical next step in battery development?
      Making EV technology safe and affordable are going to be the key areas for development in the battery industry. Another major challenge is in standardizing the EV battery chemistry to achieve economies of scale.

     

    1. How important is the coordination between R&D and other departments for the development of a new product?
      When you are in a business, any innovation or development is driven from the perspective of customer. This being the case, no successful innovation or development can just be born in labs or creative studios in isolation. It will require the convergence of all the stakeholders and organizational divisions to deliver it successfully to the market.  To this effect, our R&D works very closely with our Supplier R&D/Technical/Production/Marketing teams on one side of the spectrum and our own Marketing/Sales/Service/Expediting/Finance teams on the other keeping our end consumer in focus.

     

    1. Can you tell us a little more about the new products that have been developed by A-MAP under your leadership and do give us some insight to what you have done differently which has brought a positive change for your organization?
      Development is a continuous process and our endeavor has been to deliver the right kind of products & service for the markets that we are in. We have been able to create a niche for our brands over the past years by :

      1. Revisiting existing product designs and re-designing them to suit MENA region usage.
      2. Intervention in manufacturing technology to help factories build fail safe products by eliminating manufacturing defects.
      3. Developing a whole range of products for In-house brand of Automotive Lead Acid batteries, with latest technology in plate making to suit the High Heat conditions. We launched this range in the last edition of Automechanika Dubai 2019.
      4. Establishing a full-fledged training center in Dubai, to propagate the knowledge of the product and its application to all customers, as we firmly believe that only awareness and understanding would help our customers to derive real value for the money they have invested in us and our products.

     

    1. The UAE is a market in which the commercial vehicles market is just as important as that for passenger cars. What are your products for the commercial vehicles market and what advantages do they offer compared to other products in the market?
      The commercial vehicles market in the MENA region forms a very substantial part of our product portfolio offering in the market.  We have had very severe failure issues linked to the typical usage and environmental conditions of the region in the past.  But with our expertise in product design and knowledge of customer requirement, we were able to re-design our products very quickly. After making advancements in our production processes, we are now offering products for CV which offer the lowest failure rates in the market.  Our products not only endure extreme high heat conditions, but with the 3 dimensional cell locking they offer the best in class vibration resistance to deliver hassle free long life.

     

    1. What are the new products that you have lined up for the near future?
      We are jointly working with the R&D of our associate manufacturers in developing high temperature corrosion resistant lead acid batteries for the GCC region, we are in very advanced stage of field testing.

     

    1. What do you like most about working for A-MAP?
      Motivation to work in A-MAP stems from our top management’s clarity of vision and passion for excellence. All business vertical heads are empowered to work independently and the humane touch in management make A-MAP a great place to work in.

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    Interview with Luka Steger, Consumer PBU, Goodyear Middle East and Africa https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/interview-with-luka-steger-consumer-pbu-goodyear-middle-east-and-africa/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/interview-with-luka-steger-consumer-pbu-goodyear-middle-east-and-africa/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 13:17:11 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=29789 Goodyear has a truly proud history in motorsport that goes back many decades and championships. The renowned tire manufacturer had a key role to play in four land speed records, 14 Le Mans victories and an unbeaten record of 368 Formula One grand Prix wins before the company withdrew from Formula One racing. In what […]

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    Goodyear has a truly proud history in motorsport that goes back many decades and championships. The renowned tire manufacturer had a key role to play in four land speed records, 14 Le Mans victories and an unbeaten record of 368 Formula One grand Prix wins before the company withdrew from Formula One racing.

    In what is being termed as the company’s return to the world of motorsport, Goodyear has become the official tire supplier for the LMP2 category in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The tire manufacturer got a chance to put its newly developed range of tires to the test on the track during the fourth round of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) that was recently held in Bahrain. The two-day event was held at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, with the qualifying race being held on December 13, 2019, followed by the 8-hour endurance race on December 14.

    On the sidelines of the event, we got a chance to chat with Luka Steger, Consumer PBU, Goodyear Middle East and Africa.

    Goodyear had taken a break from racing for many years. What motivated the decision to return to racing?

    The idea that Goodyear had taken a break from motorsports is a wrong one. The company did leave F1 racing after gaining due recognition as successful tire manufacturer of all time, but Goodyear used the break to focus on NASCAR. The 2019 decision to support the World Endurance Championship marked Goodyear’s return to racing at the global level and aligns well with the company’s current focus on the ultra high performance, track and supercar segment with the 2019 launch of the Eagle F1 SuperSport range. The Eagle F1 SuperSport range shares technology with our latest Le Mans and World Endurance tires.

    How is technology that is developed for the racetrack leveraged for use in road tires?

    The very same team that developed the Goodyear race tracks developed the compounds used in the Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport R and RS tires. Materials used in the tires like the high performance resin are identical for both the road and the race tires. The tire development team uses participation in motorsports as a test bed to learn a lot about material development and performance and effectively used this knowledge for the development of better road tires.

    Is Goodyear disappointed that it has not been selected as the supplier for the hypercar class?
    In the WEC, the LMP2 category is one of the most competitive and closely fought categories. The same category is considered to be the top class in ELMS, which is the world’s leading continental endurance racing series. As an outcome of this agreement, Goodyear now has a presence in two of the strongest endurance racing series in the world. So, this is definitely a development that is expected to strongly reinforce Goodyear’s brand presence in the racing world. From the beginning of the 20/21 season in September 2020, all the cars in the secondary prototype category will be running on Goodyear tires and that will definitely give Goodyear great visibility.

    Does Goodyear’s status as a sole supplier offer less scope for tire development than a scenario where there is open competition?

    This is a major commitment for Goodyear. We are currently developing LMP2 tyres in an open competition environment with the goal of providing the best tires for teams that choose Goodyear. As a single tire supplier we will work with all teams and the FIA/ACO to deliver a winning tire package that supports the highly competitive LMP2 class.

    What is the duration of the contract?

    The contract is a multi-season agreement.

    Is there any chance that Goodyear would return to F1 racing?

    The market outlook and the automotive industry itself is experiencing change at a fast pace. All our sponsorship decisions are based on the opportunities that are available and the scope they offer for us to engage with our costumers. We will continue to evaluate all the opportunities, both when it comes to WEC and other motorsport championships. Currently, we are focusing on the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. We are also eagerly looking forward to taking on the role of official tire supplier to the LMP2 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and European Le Mans Series (ELMS) from the beginning of the 2020-2021 season.

    Has Goodyear ever considered supporting Formula E or any other form of electric racing?

    We regularly evaluate all the different technical and marketing opportunities that are available within motorsport as the reach of motorsport is a universal one. Currently, we are focusing on WEC and ELMS. We are working in the development of tires for electric vehicles. At the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show last year, we had launched the EfficientGrip Performance prototype tire with “Electric Drive Technology” for electric vehicles which is meant to reduce tire wear from high torque. We hope to bring this technology to market shortly.

    How is the outlook for Goodyear’s participation in motorsport in the years to come?

    We enjoyed a historic win on November 10 in Shanghai. We scored our first victory in what is being termed as our comeback at the Shanghai WEC round. The Jota Sport ORECA-Gibson driven by Anthony Davidson, Antonio Felix da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez emerged as the winners in the P2 category. We hope that we can build on this great beginning in the future.
    Goodyear is also taking on the role of tire supplier from Dunlop for the British Touring Car Championship for the next season.
    Luka said that the company’s sponsorship of the FIA World Endurance Championship this year definitely marked a milestone for the US tire manufacturer. The sponsorship highlights Goodyear’s commitment to the industry and its position as a leading tire manufacturer with over 120 years of innovation in tire design technologies.

    Goodyear was the first tire manufacturer to develop intelligent tires, and to use RFID technology in the form of chips that are embedded in the tires. The company was a pioneer in this field. Using a handheld reader, it is now possible to read all the information stored in the chip regarding a tire’s date of manufacture, specifications and even who it was made for. In the UAE, ESMA has made it mandatory for all tires sold in the country to have RFID stickers with fuel efficiency and wet grip ratings to prevent tampering, duplication and resale of used tires.

    On the Bahrain International Circuit, Goodyear had a chance to demonstrate its latest tire technologies to leading racing enthusiasts and industry professionals.

    The World Endurance Championship comprises nine races of different lengths that will be held on four continents, and will conclude with the race at Le Mans in June 2020. The Championship will serve as a strong platform for Goodyear to showcase its latest range of ultra-high-performance tires on a diverse range of different prototype and GT cars, circuits and weather conditions. Goodyear has already been
    developing a new range of tires for Le Mans Prototypes for over a year at its innovation centers in Hanau (Germany) and Colmar-Berg (Luxembourg) prior to exploring other racing opportunities for the brand.

    After returning to motorsport at the global level this year, Goodyear has continually highlighted its expertise in developing endurance-race tires for one of the most demanding racing championships in the world, thus reinforcing its position as a leader in tire technology and innovation, both on and off the race track.

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    Q&A with Kelly MacDonald – Chief Marketing Officer, General Motors Africa and Middle East https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/qa-with-kelly-macdonald-chief-marketing-officer-general-motors-africa-and-middle-east/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/qa-with-kelly-macdonald-chief-marketing-officer-general-motors-africa-and-middle-east/#respond Wed, 04 Dec 2019 10:33:23 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=29330 What were the main announcements for GM at The Dubai International Motor Show? At the Dubai International Motor Show, General Motors brought six new reveals and 18 total incredible products, all of which demonstrated our commitment to bring the safest, most diverse and most connected vehicles for customers in the region. With Chevrolet, the 2020 […]

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    What were the main announcements for GM at The Dubai International Motor Show?

    At the Dubai International Motor Show, General Motors brought six new reveals and 18 total incredible products, all of which demonstrated our commitment to bring the safest, most diverse and most connected vehicles for customers in the region.

    With Chevrolet, the 2020 Corvette Stingray made its regional debut, bringing new levels of performance, technology, craftsmanship and luxury to Chevrolet’s 2020 line-up, we are excited to say that the Middle East will be the only global region, outside of North America, to receive the 2020 Corvette in its first year of production. From track tech to road agility, we also unveiled the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Captiva. Designed for the modern family that needs versatility, safety and fun, all in a sleek crossover. Joining the Captiva is a new nameplate for the region, the 2020 Chevrolet Onix, which will offer class-leading fuel efficiency and blend attractive design, innovative connectivity and active safety technologies to offer customers a compact car that is a cut above the rest.

    GMC revealed its boldest line-up to date, featuring greater versatility, connectivity and the latest accessories and personalization offerings. The all-new re-designed GMC Sierra line-up was on full display, underpinned by two models exclusively available for the region, the Elevation and AT4 regular cabs. The new 2020 Acadia, with state-of-the-art technological enhancements is an intelligent SUV that elevates the driving and passenger experiences on all fronts.

    Cadillac unveiled three new models that encapsulate the unique blend of power, presence and performance only delivered by the premium brand. The first-ever Cadillac CT5 Sport Sedan advances the brand’s award-winning legacy with a distinctive fusion of design, performance and comfort, supported by Cadillac’s latest technologies. While the CT5 affirms Cadillac’s strength in luxury sedans, the first-ever, three-row crossover, the Cadillac XT6 and the sophisticated Cadillac XT5 continues the brand’s rapid expansion in the SUV segment.

    You are a woman working in a male dominated industry. Can you tell how being a woman has proved to be both a challenge and an opportunity in your current role?

    The automotive industry, like several other industries, has traditionally been dominated by men, however, globally and across industries, we’ve seen a greater understanding that any business needs diverse talent to continue to succeed. For General Motors, we’re working not just today but for the future of mobility and that requires a diverse, inclusive team of talented individuals, including our Chairman and CEO, Mary Barra and CFO, Dhivya Suryadevara who are guiding the direction of our business.

    My journey in automotive, growing through a variety of field roles into brand and today as the Chief Marketing Officer for Africa and Middle East, is a testament to diversity being at the core of our strategy. The past months have been exciting as I worked closely with the team and got to know our customers we have here in the region, and I look forward to continuing this journey.

    GM has increased the number of women in its workforce in the past few years. How important is diversity for General Motors?
    It’s very important. Like I said, GM holds diversity and inclusion at the core of its strategy to win and across the globe we work to create an environment that supports all employees while recognizing and respecting them as individuals.

    We’ve also been recognized for this commitment. In the past year alone, we’ve ranked high or lead on the Gender Equality index, Equileap Global Report on Gender Equality at the workplace and Equileap Report on Gender Equality in the workplace in the US. For the Middle East, MEO secured four awards for leadership, culture and female talent at the 2019 Break the Ceiling, Touch the Sky Leonie Awards™, including bronze in Best CEO/President Leading on Gender Diversity & Inclusion.

    We are very proud of these recognitions, but it doesn’t stop at our walls. We look outside our walls into how we can help encourage equality across our industry and the greater business environment.

    You handle a region in which digital literacy and the use of social media varies widely from one market to another with the Middle East generally having quite high levels of digital literacy while parts of Africa have low levels. What impact does this have on the marketing strategy? How important is your internet marketing and online marketing for GM in this region?
    As marketers we already know, our time with our consumers is precious. Attention spans are shorter than ever, and experience is king. We have to be selective, focused and make sure that it is something of value to our audience; something that can get them to stop and notice.

    We see the way we interact through social and digital platforms as the perfect way to deliver this content, one that allows us to speak directly with our customers and we maintain a strong online presence for that very fact.

    Women can now drive in Saudi Arabia. How important is the Saudi market for GM?

    Saudi Arabia is one of the most important markets for our business. General Motors has been in the region for over a century, and 90 of those years we have been working closely with governments and our partners in the Kingdom and our leadership continues to this day. We’ve maintained our standing as number three over the past two years, continue to grow with vehicles like the Chevrolet Traverse among the bestselling SUVs in Saudi Arabia, with over 333% of growth, and our customers have an unbreakable link to our products and our service.

    While women driving in the Kingdom is definitely a milestone in the ability to choose it brings for those drivers. We know women have long been part of the car purchasing journey and wanted to ensure they had the right resources, information and choices in front of them for when we stepped to the forefront. That’s why we have an all-female call center based in the Kingdom, offering information on everything from the products themselves to what to expect from a lifecycle of ownership, and female representatives on the showroom floors themselves.

    More than anything, our focus remains on providing incredible products that can fit any journey, helping every customer find new roads and conquer every ground.

    The UAE government is actively promoting the use of electric cars, but a survey in February revealed that customers are slow to switch to electric cars as they are worried about range, the high initial cost and the long time needed to recharge. In the case of the Chevrolet Bolt EV, how do you address customer concerns regarding these issues?
    We know that customer education and awareness are crucial to electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Joining the focus and incentives that the UAE has brought to alternative propulsion and its drivers here, General Motors has reaffirmed our commitment in the region with the announcement of the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV following the 2019 model.

    One of the greatest barriers to EVs is range anxiety, with a leading range of up to 565KM , we’re providing customers the choice of an EV that can performs well and needs a recharge about the same as a traditional internal combustion engine. No worry about range, only a fun-to-drive, spacious vehicle that is also emissions free.

    Having the right infrastructure is also required to address concerns and have EVs merge into everyday life. In the UAE, we work closely with GreenParking to help establish a network of aligned and accessible charging stations, as well as the regulation to guide implementation.

    An evolution such as this does not happen overnight. We are committed to working with the communities we operate in to identify the right opportunities, not only to bring cars to the region, but also grow awareness and preference today, and ensure the right infrastructure and legislation is in place for future innovations.

    One major concern is safety, especially in view of the high rate of accidents in the UAE? What are the safety features that are commonly available in GM models?
    At General Motors, safety is our number one priority and we are aligned with the UAE’s own commitment to continue to tackle road fatalities by 2021. Our current line-up is built with the latest technology to keep drivers safe before, during and after an accident; whether it be Lane Keep Assist, Automatic Reverse Braking or lightweight, durable chassis that protect occupants upon impact, we build vehicles to keep drivers and passengers safe.

    Taking a big step on our journey towards a future of Zero Crashes, Zero Congestion and Zero Emissions, we recently announced that OnStar, our pioneering in-vehicle safety and security technology, will launch in the UAE in 2020. A seamless end-to-end service built in to General Motors’ cars from the beginning, OnStar elevates your ownership experience for ultimate peace of mind 24/7, at the push of a button.

    OnStar supports drivers by having someone there when you need them most, but also by making every drive more connected, and even fun, as well as helping drivers learn how we can behave better and safer on the road.

    Another challenge is the extreme temperatures in the region. Does GM have vehicles that have been specially tested for use in this region?

    Whenever we’re looking to bring a new vehicle to the region, we go through a vigorous research and testing process to make sure it will deliver peak performance to our customers. All our vehicles are homologated for the Middle East. In fact, apart from the Middle East, we test our vehicles in some of the harshest conditions on the planet, including the Death Valley, Nevada.

    All vehicles for the region are tested right here three months prior to Middle East production. During this testing, our team works to accumulate as many kilometers on the vehicles to assess everything, including performance under the hottest weather; any potential issues are identified and resolved before production.

    From assessing market readiness and customer needs, to evaluating the vehicle itself and always listening to customer feedback, we are always working to ensure everyone can get home safe, every day.

    With models from most brands not differing much in terms of price points and features, especially when it comes to mass market models, how does GM differentiate itself from other companies?

    What sets us apart is the breadth of our portfolio, which offers 31 models across three distinct brands meaning we’re able to offer something for everyone, in almost all segments. At the Dubai International Motor Show, we unveiled six new vehicles and showcased 18 incredible products, which is something that only General Motors could offer.

    What is most exciting is that our products are outpacing the industry within their segment. The GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox, for example, dominate their segment, growing by 47% year to date in the region, while the Chevrolet Traverse alongside the GMC Acadia outpace the industry at 52% of growth since last year.

    Our focus on our customers at the heart of everything we do and why we understanding their ever-changing needs also drive these results. A prime example of this is our extensive multi-brand pick-up truck portfolio, offering more trims and accessory combinations than ever before, including trims exclusively available for the region with the Chevrolet Silverado regular cab, Trail Boss and RST, and the GMC Sierra regular cab, AT4 and Elevation. We know that our truck customers are adventurous and with our offering, every driver can tailor their vehicle to best suit their journey.

    We stand out not by just anticipating customers’ needs, but genuinely understanding the importance of each and every journey our vehicles might go on.

    Customer service is an important part of the ownership experience. How is GM planning to enhance the customer service experience in this region?
    We understand that customers are looking for a stronger relationship with their manufacturer and dealer than ever before, one that supports them throughout their full vehicle life cycle. This relationship begins from the moment they interact with the brand – either in person or through a virtual showroom – looking for their new vehicle and throughout their full ownership experience.

    We are proud that we offer an excellent customer support network, starting online with Shop.Click.Drive, available now for Chevrolet, which allows customers to browse, book test drives and even purchase their vehicle from the comfort of their own home. Keeping a human touch at the forefront of everything we do, we have an extensive physical footprint of 16 dealers and 179 customer-facing rooftops across 10 countries in the Middle East, including 14 new ACDelco Service Centers opened in 2019 alone.

    Our introduction of OnStar in 2020 will be a game-changer for customer experience. From checking in on your oil life or service reminders, to unlocking doors, helping you navigate and more, OnStar’s pioneering in-vehicle technology backed by OnStar trained Advisors elevates the ownership experience.

    When it comes to our customers and their experience we strive for excellence with no acceptable finish line. We will always be improving to provide the best for every, single driver.

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    Q&A with Rakesh Nair, Managing Director at Groupe PSA in the GCC https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/qa-with-rakesh-nair-managing-director-at-groupe-psa-in-the-gcc/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/qa-with-rakesh-nair-managing-director-at-groupe-psa-in-the-gcc/#respond Wed, 13 Nov 2019 06:18:04 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=29162 Can you tell more about yourself and how you came to be a part of the automotive industry? I grew up in UAE and spent my early schooling years here. The rugged 4x4s and huge American sedans were a common sight in the early 90s. I could identify every brand, every model on the road […]

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    Can you tell more about yourself and how you came to be a part of the automotive industry?
    I grew up in UAE and spent my early schooling years here. The rugged 4x4s and huge American sedans were a common sight in the early 90s. I could identify every brand, every model on the road and that fascination ended up being a passion that eventually led me to doing an engineering degree in automobile.

    How important is the Middle East market for Peugeot? What are the company’s plans for this region?

    PSA’s ‘Push to Pass’ strategic plan is the first step towards Groupe PSA’s vision to become a global carmaker on the leading edge of efficiency and a benchmark supplier of mobility services.

    To achieve this objective, the Group plans to take up the major challenges facing the automotive industry, and accelerate the implementation of projects that transform growth and efficiency, particularly in digital technology. The Group’s aim is to increase its sales outside of Europe by 50 per cent by 2021 and to position its automotive brands in new markets. The Middle East market will be a major part of that plan.

    Can you tell us more about your distribution network in the UAE for both Peugeot and Citroen?
    Peugeot is represented in Dubai and Northern Emirates by Swaidan trading and by Omeir Bin Yousef in Abu Dhabi region. Combined we have (6) show rooms, out of which one is the region’s first digital boutique showroom situated in Yas Mall. We are currently studying the re-entry of Citroen and DS brands in UAE by next year

    You deal with marketing for both passenger and commercial vehicles in this region. What is the relative importance that both these segments have for Peugeot in this region? What is the percentage each contributes to Peugeot sales?
    The growth in GCC market is going to be phenomenal in terms of infrastructure and population. In our commercial line, our product variations allow us to provide solutions for last mile delivery, long distance logistics and VIP passenger transport. This is not a common feature for other manufacturers. Today our commercial line contributes to over 50 percent of our total sales in the region

    The automotive industry in this region has been experiencing a lull in recent years. Most brands have shifted their focus to the commercial sector to offset the slump in the sale of passenger vehicles. Has Peugeot done likewise?
    The reason other brands are adding focus is that there are only two or three dominant players. There is huge room for competitive growth. New regulations, safety ratings, increasing acceptance of diesel will allow new brands to be strong players.

    The general perception is that Peugeot models offer value for money. What is your take on this? What differentiates Peugeot vehicles from those belonging to other brands?
    Our latest generation models are all equipped with the brand’s trademark i-Cockpit system. This technology offers an 8-inch capacitive touchscreen and a customisable and configurable head-up digital display, a compact steering wheel with integrated controls and an electric automatic gearbox.

    We will be introducing the new generation of our i-Cockpit, a 3D digital display cluster in the Middle East next year.

    Additionally, all our cars in all trims are featured with the latest safety and driving technologies, including: blind spot monitor, rear view camera, front & rear parking sensors, electronic parking brake, hill assist function, anti-lock braking system, electronic brakeforce distribution, Electronic stability control and tire-pressure monitoring system.

    With most brands offering vehicles that are similar with regard to quality and price, the focus has shifted to service. What effort has Peugeot made to take service to a different level at the retail level?

    Our global direction is dedicated to quality improvement. This is applicable on all our touchpoints. Our boutique showroom concept is the new direction for customer engagement and our product quality is backed by a 5 year or 100,000kms warranty ensuring peace of mind.

    How difficult/easy is it to get genuine spare parts for Peugeot vehicles – both passenger and commercial?
    Our availability of fast moving parts are at industry average level and for any other parts we have both air and sea routes to ensure minimum delay for customers.

    Which are the most popular Peugeot models in the Middle East market and why?
    Our most popular models are the 3008 and 5008 SUVs, and the recently launched 508 sports sedan. On the commercial vehicle side of the business the Partner and Expert vans are also proving very popular.

    You have handled marketing for different automotive brands like Nissan. What are the marketing challenges that you faced for each brand and especially for Peugeot?
    Larger automotive brands are blessed with bigger budgets due to the revenue stream from high value SUVs. This allows larger focus on brand communication and across multiple channels. For Peugeot, we are fortunate to have decades of presence in the region, so intenders are aware of our brand. However, our focus for newer models is mainly to drive stronger engagement with the customer through below the line marketing, test drives, focused community targeting and digital media strategy

    How is the GCC market different from other emerging markets for the commercial vehicles?
    Commercial vehicles here are purchased mainly by companies and not much by individuals as in other emerging markets. The usage of the vehicles in high temperatures and long durations test the quality of the product

    What are your most recent marketing plans for this market?
    We focus on the communication of our newly launched products like the 508 and upcoming models like 208 & 2008. We are also aggressively focusing on our LCV range with our new Partner and Expert vans, as well as our versatile Boxer model.

    Emissions and fuel efficiency are the main challenges for automakers, not just in this region but across the globe. How do Peugeot models fare in these aspects when compared to those made by other automakers?
    Peugeot has been on the forefront of fuel-efficient technology. All our passenger cars are below 2.0L engine size, but it does not compromise on driving performance while providing top-level fuel efficiency.

    Dubai has a high rate of accidents and road safety is a serious issue here. What advanced safety features do Peugeot models offer to motorists?
    The new range of Peugeot cars offer top safety features like Advanced Safety Braking, lane departure prevention, blind spot warning, automatic parking assist, advanced navigation with Apple Car play and Android Auto compatibility

    Which is your favorite Peugeot model and why?
    My favorite Peugeot model is the 508 GT Line. I am a millennial techie and this car meets all my gizmo needs. It is fully loaded with features like massage seats, wireless charging, Apple car play, digital display screen, panoramic sunroof and an amazing music system by Focal. Its sport mode also ensures I have fun

    The post Q&A with Rakesh Nair, Managing Director at Groupe PSA in the GCC appeared first on Tires & Parts News.

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    Interview with Mourad Hedna – President, UD Trucks Middle East, East and North Africa https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/interview-with-mourad-hedna-president-ud-trucks-middle-east-east-and-north-africa/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/interview-with-mourad-hedna-president-ud-trucks-middle-east-east-and-north-africa/#respond Tue, 01 Oct 2019 11:45:32 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=28782 Can you begin by telling us a little about yourself and your experience in the automotive industry? I’ve been working in the automotive industry, particularly in commercial vehicles for more than 20 years with Volvo Group. I started with product development and engine development, and then dealt with powertrain strategic purchasing. I was responsible for […]

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    Can you begin by telling us a little about yourself and your experience in the automotive industry?

    I’ve been working in the automotive industry, particularly in commercial vehicles for more than 20 years with Volvo Group. I started with product development and engine development, and then dealt with powertrain strategic purchasing. I was responsible for powertrain business strategy for the Volvo group. And now, I am leading the UD Sales in the MEENA region, covering Middle East, East and North Africa. I was involved in the evolution that happened in this industry with continuous improvements with trucks that are more reliable, more powerful, more safe, and cleaner in terms of exhaust emissions. I saw also the transformation journey starting in this area with new technologies emerging in the industry with Automation, Electrification and Connectivity.


    Please tell us about the range of vehicles you have. Are all your models available in the Middle East market?

    Now with UD Trucks (previously known as Nissan Diesel), we have a wide range of products. Japan is very advanced in term of emissions legislation, weight and safety, and we decided early that we need two sets of offers; one for the Japanese and very advanced markets and one for emerging markets to have the best fit for each market. For emerging markets such as south East Asia, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, we offer products and services that are tailor made for the tough environment and usage in these markets. We renew our complete range for these markets and we launched them in the last two years in the region; they are smart and modern and in the same time we kept the UD DNA: Reliable and simple trucks.

    Which are your most popular models and why?

    In the Middle East, we offer products covering all applications of Heavy and Medium duty segments:

    Quester covers all applications of Heavy duty segment above 18T, and the Croner covers the medium duty segment from 10T to 18T. We offer wide ranges of specs to cover distribution, regional and long haul, light and heavy construction. The latest specs we added are the 6x4R 40T and 8x4R 46T are very well appreciated in the region.

    All our models are very successful, however we felt we can still do better in the tractors segment in markets that used to be fully dominated by European brands. That is the reason we introduced in April this year the New Quester equipped with Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) and many additional features for comfort and weight improvements to penetrate that segment. The new Quester is a successful hybrid of a Japanese and European truck.

    How is the marketing for commercial vehicles different from that for passenger cars?

    The marketing for the passenger cars is more directed toward the mass as the target audience is much larger and diverse. Its purchase can sometimes be very impulsive, emotional, and can be a symbol of status or expression of one’s self. However, a truck is a business tool and usually its purchase is based on rational facts. To market a truck, you need to give the customer rational facts and figures on how your product will support his/her business. Within the truck business, the marketing strategy leans more, but is not limited to, direct marketing. It is all about understanding the client’s specific needs. The client needs to experience our product and he/she needs to be sure that it will add value to his/her business.


    Please tell us more about your target audience. What is the key factor that compels customers to buy trucks from your company?

    When it comes to the target audience, you can say that we cater for all segments from construction to waste management, long haul or city distribution from single trucks owners, to big multinationals, or government entities.

    UD is a respected brand in the region representing our Japanese heritage and values such as going the extra mile for our customers. We belong to the Volvo Group, a very solid commercial group where we are befitting from the group’s experience of synergies in many areas. This is translated in the products, service and mind-set we offer to our customers.

    How is the market here different from the markets you have dealt with before like Sweden?

    The European market is very mature. Here, the volatility and uncertainty is very high, especially in the last couple of years. This calls for a high level of flexibly, agility and entrepreneurship mind-set. A lot of opportunities exist here to optimize logistics costs and inefficiency. This can be done by working closely with our customers to have a better understating of their business and applications, and having a main objective of helping customers make profit by using all tools that we have to optimize operational costs. This set up is more advanced in Europe. However, I see it coming here step by step, and within UD, we are having many successful stories in that sense.

    What is common everywhere is that truck business is built on people: by building trustful, respectful relationships with your customers and partners and by supporting your customer by providing the right products, service and extra support their needs, these are recipes to succeed together. From technology aspect, Europe, Japan and US moved in a gradual way for implementing advanced technologies starting with step by step emission improvements while technologies matured. The adoption of these technologies in our markets here will come surely after, but much faster and with some shortcuts. Connectivity is one example; we sold already in the region many UD trucks that are fully connected.

    You have worked on the technical side as well in procurement before taking on your current role. How have the skills developed in these stints helped you helm UD Trucks in this market?

    Working in different areas helps build a holistic picture by looking into the big picture, not only from pure sales point of view but also product, features, and supply chain as suppliers for car-truck makers play a significant role. It becomes easier to build consistent and comprehensive strategy and story. Coming from a different background helps also through diversity; to challenge the habits, be more creative and bring benchmarks from other experiences. This turns out to be very well-appreciated by our own employees, partners and customers.

    Dubai serves as a hub for re-export to other countries in the Middle East and in Africa. What importance does this aspect have from a marketing perspective?

    This was the case for everyone including UD business. But since we created this hub, we decided to stop this transactional-trading approach because it is not very healthy for the end customer. We did the opposite, by developing and coaching our partners in other countries to be closer to their customers to better serve them. We focus in Dubai more on UAE customers. And for other markets, we do it with local importers. Our approach is definitely to be closer to our customers through local importers.

    Whom do you consider as your main competitors in this market and what differentiates UD Trucks from these companies?

    As a Japanese brand, we compete obviously in the medium duty and some heavy duty segments where Japanese brands used to be present, and we also compete with other Japanese manufactures.

    Being part of Volvo Group, a big international group, and using its technologies, suppliers and manufacturing footprint, gives us an additional competitive edge compared to others. Thanks to that, we also compete in the heavy duty segment with other European brands, as we offer specs that are similarly offered by European manufactures, such as Automated Manual Transmission, hub reduction, spacious and comfortable cab, and powerful modern Volvo Group engines.

    Has the slump in the passenger car market affected the commercial segment as well? What strategy has UD Trucks adopted to increase sales during this period?

    The market was and is very challenging. We succeeded to improve our market share in the majority of markets by being closer to our customers and partners, and by providing them with a competitive set of products and services. We are also clear that we are serious in the region and we are committed to grow and support our customers. Our customers and partners noticed how active we are and how every year, we bring new models and specs to the region to cover all customers’ needs.

    You handle sales in many countries across this region? Which is the most important market and why?

    All markets are important and we value the importance of each UD customer regardless of the size of his fleet or his country. The dynamics are different from country to country depending on the geopolitical and economic situation. We have high ambition in ALL GCC countries and are building an aggressive plan for Saudi market.


    One of the key factors when it comes to commercial vehicles is downtime as it can have a significant effect on productivity. How has UD Trucks ensured that downtime is minimal for customers?

    A truck represents a huge investment for our customers and it’s an asset that should generate profit. Every hour the truck is not on the road is a loss for the customer and a failure for us. We keep regular follow ups through our dealers on all fleets and vehicles and ensure that in the case of any truck that is down, we provide needed support to put it back on the road as soon as possible. In such cases, fixing customers problems is the first priority. Our trucks are also equipped with telematics, where the customer can track his trucks at anytime, anywhere, and follow their performance. We also do preventive maintenance and service planning which helps us to detect any problem before it happens.


    Another main issue is the availability of good service and spare parts. What are the benefits that customers of UD Trucks get when it comes to these aspects?

    You are right. Regardless of the features of the truck, parts availability was, is, and will remain in the top basic musts for our industry. From UD’s side, we have in Jebal Ali one of the most advanced parts warehouses of Volvo Group in the world. We provide UD parts to our local dealers in a very fast and very efficient way to ensure quick deliveries to customers in the region. We work also continuously to increase our network through the region to have parts available as close as possible to customer.

    What are the key challenges faced by the commercial vehicle industry in this region?

    Volatility and uncertainty, remains the main challenge to predict and plan. Customers will focus more and more on total cost of ownership and we see the trend in many segments already.

    Fuel price may continue to increase, meaning that fuel consumption will be a key purchase criteria like in Europe. This will benefit UD as we are equipped with very modern driveline efficiency of logistic margins.

    Logistic efficiency and more pressure on margins in every point in the value chain. This would put more pressure on prices and customers will continue to be very demanding on reliability and durability but probably less on features they don’t need.


    Where do you see potential for additional growth when it comes to the Middle East market?

    In all markets, there is tremendous potential for growth. Different cities are not all at the same level, but a lot remains for infrastructure. Cities are getting bigger and bigger following the urbanization trends that we see everywhere in the world, meaning that more goods transportation is needed. E-commerce is growing here as well, meaning that city distribution will continue growing. All countries have noble inspiration with 2025-2030 vison for more prosperity. Commercial vehicles is a key vector that enables prosperity and is needed to transport goods and prepare future infrastructure.

    What are your views on the short-term and long-term outlook for the commercial vehicle industry in the region?

    KSA will be one key market to pull the growth up but also with positive effect on other neighbouring countries. The low level in the two last years should be the bottom and market should improve especially in regards to the new projects that are in the pipeline.

    If there is just one single thing about UD Trucks that you would like our readers to remember, what would that be?

    I would say two,

    UD’s family spirit with our employees, with our partners, and with our customers

    We go the extra mile for our customers.

    The post Interview with Mourad Hedna – President, UD Trucks Middle East, East and North Africa appeared first on Tires & Parts News.

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    Dr.Manfred Bräunl- Chief Executive Officer, Porsche Middle East & Africa FZE https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/dr-manfred-briiunl-chief-executive-officer-porsche-middle-east-africa-fze/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/dr-manfred-briiunl-chief-executive-officer-porsche-middle-east-africa-fze/#respond Thu, 29 Aug 2019 10:56:16 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=28541 Can you please tell us a little about yourself and how long you have been with Porsche? I joined Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE earlier this year and prior to my move here, I held the position of Vice President of Marketing at Porsche China. I have a genuine passion for sports cars and […]

    The post Dr.Manfred Bräunl- Chief Executive Officer, Porsche Middle East & Africa FZE appeared first on Tires & Parts News.

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    Can you please tell us a little about yourself and how long you have been with Porsche?

    I joined Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE earlier this year and prior to my move here, I held the position of Vice President of Marketing at Porsche China. I have a genuine passion for sports cars and have worked in the automotive industry for luxury performance brands since I graduated from university. I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in this field, and as such, I consider myself fortunate to be part of this iconic brand.

    What are the challenges that you see in the Middle East market especially when it comes to market share?

    Our focus in the region is to always place the customer at the heart of our operations. As such, we strive to match their passion for Porsche with the launch of new, exciting sports cars and by offering unique brand experiences. We also work with our importers across the region to achieve the highest levels of customer satisfaction. In terms of After Sales this means we conduct regular mystery shopping and feedback surveys, because only by talking to our customers, can we further enhance our service. We will continue to do this and continuously strive for further enhancements all round.
    When will the new electric Porsche Taycan be launched and why would consumers consider it vs other electric car vehicles in the market?
    The global unveiling of the Taycan will take place in September, with the model then set to arrive across the GCC in 2020. As is always the case with all Porsche sports cars, the objective was to offer the sportiest vehicle regardless of segment, and I can assure you that this is exactly what has been achieved with the Taycan. As the brand’s first fully electric car, it will offer the same impressive performance, driving pleasure, quality build and iconic design that is synonymous with the Porsche brand. The Taycan will be a game changer.

    Are there any plans for future 911 models to go electric?

    At Porsche, evolution will always have an authentic link to the brand’s history. Porsche is and always will remain a manufacturer of premium sports cars, with the pleasure of driving at the very core of its mission. As such, our strategy will be to continue with a three-pronged approach, which incorporates optimized combustion engines, plug-in hybrid models and purely electric sports cars – all in typical Porsche style and design language.

    Porsche is on record vowing to keep the GT3 models naturally aspirated. How much more power can these engines develop?

    Innovation is a big part of what we do and we are always striving to improve our engines; whether for motorsport or road-legal sports cars. Our engineers and designers work tirelessly to ensure that whichever model we offer to our loyal base of enthusiasts, is the best it can be.

    The Porsche 911 Carrera launch was a highly anticipated event. In what way is this next-generation model different from the previous versions?

    Quite simply, the new 911 Carrera line-up is faster, more powerful and more efficient than ever before. The eighth generation really highlights the design and performance evolution of our most iconic sports car. For example, the Carrera S with its turbocharged flat-six engine now produces 450 hp, therefore corresponding to an increase of 30 hp compared with the previous model.
    Its new design now showcases a more muscular look that pays tribute to the past, while also embracing the future. It is the best 911 Porsche has ever produced and successfully maintains the 911’s status as a pure driver’s car that also offers everyday usability and unique design.

    From the consumer perspective, what do the consumers here care about the most when buying a new Porsche?

    We regard Porsche owners as enthusiasts rather than customers. They are a mix of passionate sports car fans and discerning individuals, with an appreciation for luxury vehicles as well as the unique driving pleasure associated with our models. In terms of preference, they want a dynamic sports car, without compromising on comfort and suitability for everyday driving. Our research also highlights that they desire unique design, impressive performance and enjoy the thrill of dynamic driving.

    Porsche is a brand that is known for high-end vehicles focusing on speed and performance. Has this perception changed over the years at the global level and at the regional level?

    Not at all. With more than 70 years of producing exclusive sports cars, Porsche continues to set new standards as a manufacturer, whilst excelling in motorsports and focusing on future innovation.
    Meanwhile at the core of it all is a constant pursuit of evolution, ensuring that the next range of models continue to carry the unmistakable Porsche DNA. This is the spirit that has made Porsche what it is today.
    What are some of the bestselling Porsche models in the Middle East and why?
    Our most delivered models across the region in 2018 were the Macan and Cayenne. Both models have advanced in terms of comfort and driving dynamics while remaining a true sports car. Our compact SUV, the Macan has also made ownership of a Porsche possible for a new group of drivers who enjoy experiencing authentic sports car driving in daily life.

    One major concern in this region is the availability of parts and the level of service for luxury customers. How does Porsche address these two concerns in this region?

    Availability is dictated by factors that can vary on a case-by-case basis. Our importers across the region stock a selection of fast-moving parts and in scenarios where stock is not available, the service team will place an order with our headquarters in Germany. The request process is always quick and seamless, with the guarantee that the parts delivered are Porsche tested and approved.
    Therefore, the main variables in this process are related to distance and country specific regulations such as customs clearance. With that in mind, our service centers adhere to the mantra of ‘Performance Maintained’, meaning that Porsche will always operate efficient and transparent standards of work, that are geared towards offering a smooth ownership experience for Porsche customers regardless of location.

    It is now legal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. Have you developed any special campaigns targeting women motorists in Saudi Arabia?

    Porsche is currently offering the most diverse line up of sports cars in the brand’s history, which cater to a variety of individual needs and preference. As such, it is great that women in Saudi now also have the opportunity to own and experience their Porsche of choice first-hand. As part of our marketing efforts, we deliver in-market experiential events, such as the Porsche World Roadshow, which returned to the Kingdom earlier this year. Open to all enthusiasts, the sessions were aimed at helping participants advance their track skills whilst giving them the opportunity to sample the power, technical innovation and ride comfort of the full Porsche range.

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    Bruce Robertson, Managing Director for Jaguar Land Rover Middle East and North Africa https://tiresandparts.net/news/bruce-robertson-managing-director-for-jaguar-land-rover-middle-east-and-north-africa/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/bruce-robertson-managing-director-for-jaguar-land-rover-middle-east-and-north-africa/#respond Mon, 05 Aug 2019 11:05:51 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=28405 Can you tell more about yourself and how you came to be a part of the automotive industry? My career actually began in the automotive industry, and I have been within the Jaguar Land Rover network for over 25 years now. During this time, I have had the privilege of capitalising on the many opportunities […]

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    Can you tell more about yourself and how you came to be a part of the automotive industry?

    My career actually began in the automotive industry, and I have been within the Jaguar Land Rover network for over 25 years now. During this time, I have had the privilege of capitalising on the many opportunities to grow our network in the region. As the Managing Director for Jaguar Land Rover Middle East and North Africa from April 2014, I am responsible for spearheading our next phase of automotive innovation in one of the world’s most competitive markets.

    How important is the Middle East market for JLR? What are the company’s plans for this region?

    MENA is one of most competitive and dynamic markets in the world, which actually gives us a great opportunity to build our brand’s presence through a genuinely consumer-centric approach. Despite the headwinds faced by the region’s automotive industry, Jaguar reported an impressive increase in annual sales of 46 percent in 2018/19, while Land Rover recorded a 13 percent year-on-year increase over the same period. We are currently focussed on meeting strong consumer-demand for our latest high-performance vehicles across MENA markets, and of course delivering the next-generation of automotive technologies in line with the brands’ Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared (ACES) strategy.

    Land Rover is known for its rugged and stylish SUVs. But now practically every brand worth its name has its own range of SUVs. How will this affect the demand for your models?

    Within the SUV segment – in the Middle East and abroad – there is simply no automaker out there that can match Land Rover’s appeal. We always keep an eye on the competition of course, particularly with the growing number of sporty, compact SUVs, but we are confident that our cars offer a unique mix of performance and practicality. In fact, with our new model launches including the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Velar SV Autobiography Dynamic Edition, we are optimistic about the growth potential in in the latter half of 2019. And let’s not forget one of the most highly anticipated reveals coming soon from our stables, the iconic, Land Rover Defender.

    The automotive industry in this region has been experiencing a slowdown. How have you tweaked your retail and marketing strategy in light of this slump?

    In terms of retail, we are focussed on extending our line-up to reach new customers across different segments. To that end, we launched our first dedicated Jaguar Land Rover approved used car facility in Dubai with our local retailer partner Al Tayer Motors in 2017. We also kicked off the new Jaguar Land Rover ‘ARCH’ corporate identity across our MENA dealer network, which delivers a premium experience to our customers every step of the journey.

    As one of the biggest players in MENA’s automotive industry, our marketing strategy focuses on growing within niche markets where customers are less sensitive to prices, and demand highly differentiated solutions that play to Jaguar Land Rover’s traditional strengths. These markets include business travel, private transportation for children, non-emergency medical transportation, and the premium travel and tourism market.

    The general perception is that Jaguar models are quite expensive. When it comes to the total cost of ownership, how do Jaguar cars fare when compared to other luxury brands?
    From insurance, servicing and depreciation values to fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – all Jaguar vehicles adhere to stringent targets to ensure the competitiveness of our cars, which gives our customers the peace of mind to know that they have made a smart financial decision in choosing a Jaguar. We offer a comprehensive five year warranty coverage and service and maintenance coverage to all clients. That helps dramatically to reduce, and even eliminate servicing payments – offering us a competitive edge.
    Our retail price points across each nameplate are designed to offer customers the product specifications and features that suit customer demand, preferences and lifestyles at competitive prices. We also provide a number of purchasing options personalized to meet consumer preferences. Tactical offers at present have five percent VAT paid, plus five percent cash back as well as a years’ worth of free insurance.
    The residual values of Jaguar vehicles are positive supported by the warranty and servicing inclusion offers and competitive prices. Our franchise retailers provide best in-class offers on approved pre-owned vehicles which when combined with financial services, help optimize the cost of change and appreciate the value of second hand Jaguars. Customers can also benefit from our financial deals that provide interest-free loans for two to five years to help consumers defer payments for the respective periods, therefore lowering the cost of ownership.
    We also cover the developments in the parts business. The issue of fake and genuine parts is a major concern in this region. What measures has JLR taken to ensure that customers in the Middle East have access to genuine parts at reasonable prices?
    Jaguar Land Rover takes brand protection very seriously and aims to continually diminish the counterfeit parts market in MENA, and across the globe. We have a global brand protection team who act upon tips and leads with regards to counterfeit parts. Matters related to non-genuine parts are actively handled by the brand Protection team in the UK office, once identified and escalated within the retailer network.
    For instance, a container of Land Rover parts was shipped to a MENA port, which was identified as being counterfeit and subsequently destroyed. We have also been made aware of a company using a look-a-like logo which we have initiated action against.
    You will appreciate the subject is highly confidential and while we may not publicly broadcast our activities I can assure you we are active in protecting our brand. We also continue to improve our menu pricing to ensure JLR parts are competitively rated, and take measures to ensure our annual labour rate reviews are up to standard. We have menu pricing structure across our network which maintains a consistency combined with MSRP. We also have our distribution centre located here in Dubai for efficient cost-effective supply.

    Which are the most popular models in the Middle East market and why?
    Since its arrival in the Middle East in 1948, the Land Rover brand has gone on to become one of the region’s most beloved brands, and has continually evolved over time to keep delivering new and interesting products to this market. By embracing new technological advancements, with enhanced off-road capabilities, models such as the classic Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover Velar have continued to dominate the SUV segment. Owing to their unique premium positioning, positive consumer perception, breadth of capability and cost of ownership – the Range Rover brand has proven to be a capable all-rounder even in the toughest conditions. In the luxury segment, we are also noticing a growing shift from sedans to compact SUVs – a trend which is global and is reflected heavily across region. We are having notable success in our compact SUV sales, with Jaguar F-PACE and E-PACE topping the lists in the Jaguar family.

    You have worked for JLR in diverse markets like China, UK and South Africa. What learnings have you brought from your stints in these markets to your experience here in the Middle East?

    Each market I have worked in has provided an incredible learning curve. During my time in China, as the Executive Vice President of Sales and Service Operations for Jaguar Land Rover, I was part of a team that transformed our operation from selling less than 20,000 vehicles a year with 34 dealers in 2010 to selling 103,000 vehicles through 220 dealers in 2013/14. Taking lessons from the value of a collaborative marketing, sales, and service structure, I have succeeded in driving growth in the Middle Eastern market since arriving here.

    What are your most recent expansion plans for this market?

    Together with our on-going product launches and calibrated investment plans to lift our services in the Middle East, we are currently laying the foundations for sustainable growth in the region. Revealing the iconic Defender and the second-generation Range Rover Evoque, introducing cleaner, smarter, more desirable cars, and electrifying our facilities to enhance the customer experience are all integral to our expansion plans in the near future. We are also excited to introduce the award winning I-PACE SUV in the second half of 2019, which has helped Jaguar to create a new benchmark in the world of luxury electric vehicles, thus paving the way for an electrified future for the brand.

    Emissions and fuel efficiency have turned into major concerns to the point where many cities are planning to ban diesel powered vehicles. What technological innovations have been developed to conform to the new, more stringent norms?

    Complying with global emission regulations is an integral part of Jaguar Land Rover’s sustainability agenda. We produce Euro 6 engines that are now among the cleanest diesel engines in the world, with pollutant emissions equivalent to those of petrol. In the future, our MLA architecture will allow our customers to choose from a full electric, hybrid or clean petrol and diesel engine, and opt for the cleanest technology in the sector. Through these advancements, Jaguar Land Rover has been able to reduce CO2 emissions by 25 percent, NOX by 84 percent, and other particulates by 95 percent over the last decade.

    The government in Dubai is very active in promoting electric cars. What is JLR’s strategy for electric vehicles in the Middle East in view of the forthcoming launch of the I-PACE here?

    The government of Dubai has a clear vision for a sustainable future and electric vehicles play a key role in it. The municipality and DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) have already developed a strong electric infrastructure to support electric vehicles in Dubai, with 200 electric charging stations already installed in selected public areas. Dubai is aiming to have 42,000 electric vehicles on its streets by 2030, and I’m confident the I-PACE’s will be a game-changer for motorists in the emirate. The Jaguar I-PACE is a trailblazer in its field, setting the standards for other manufacturers to follow. I am sure it will flourish in newer markets in the region.

    It has now been one year since it became legal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. How has JLR tried to promote its models to women motorists in the Saudi market?

    The interest and demand from female Saudi customers since the royal decree was announced has been steadily increasing, and today, women motorists make up 25 percent of our total vehicles sales in the Kingdom. To sustain and build on this development, we are committed to delivering a stress-free ownership and aftersales experience for our new female customers in KSA. To that end, we introduced the ‘My Car, My Decision’ (Sayarati, Qarari) initiative to empower female drivers with knowledge and guidance on their vehicle and assist them throughout the buying experience.

    Customers now have high expectations in terms of connectivity and in-car technology. What new features do JLR’s new models offer with regard to this aspect?

    One major development is our involvement in several autonomous research projects around the world. Our connected and automated technology could help improve traffic flow, cut congestion, and reduce the potential for accidents. Our team has also for a long time been refining how to improve the driving experience through new applications of technology, for example, by providing drivers with autonomous assist during tedious or stressful parts of the journey. In terms of in-car technology, we are continuously devising and testing new features such as Intelligent Seat Fold technology and All-Terrain Progress Control, which are already available to Land Rover drivers.

    Many companies are now offering advanced safety features as standard on their mass market models. How do JLR models rate when it comes to safety and what new technologies have been developed in this regard?

    Together with our leading innovation partners, we’ve been investing in safety technology that could transform our customers on-road and off-road experiences. Most recently, in partnership with Glasgow University, Jaguar Land Rover created a ‘sensory steering wheel’ which comprises points that quickly heat up and cool to inform drivers where to turn, when to change lane, or to warn of an approaching junction. We are also working closely with Waymo – formerly Google’s self-driving car project, to develop the world’s first premium self-driving electric vehicle for the company’s driverless transportation service. The Jaguar Land Rover ‘Sixth Sense’ research project is also currently in the works. The project utilises advanced technology from sports, medicine and aerospace, to monitor the driver’s heart rate, respiration, and levels of brain activity to identify driver stress, fatigue and lack of concentration.

    Which is your favourite vehicle and why?

    My personal favourite would have to be the I-PACE. Not only does it set a new benchmark as the world’s best premium electric vehicle, it’s also a true Jaguar driver’s car. A combination of sports car performance, zero emissions, exceptional refinement, and true SUV practicality make it the stand-out choice in the segment.

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    Peter Cross, General Manager, Davanti Tyres https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/peter-cross-general-manager-davanti-tyres/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/peter-cross-general-manager-davanti-tyres/#respond Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:00:28 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=28402 Can you please give us some general information about yourself and how you became a part of the tire industry? Tires are our family business. My father, Larry Cross, started a business fitting tires in 1980. This grew into Oak Tyres, one of the UK’s biggest tire wholesalers. Ever since I can remember, we have […]

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    Can you please give us some general information about yourself and how you became a part of the tire industry?
    Tires are our family business. My father, Larry Cross, started a business fitting tires in 1980. This grew into Oak Tyres, one of the UK’s biggest tire wholesalers. Ever since I can remember, we have been involved in the business, from the warehouse floor to the boardroom.

    From what we understand, Davanti started as a single retail tire shop in 1980 and has now reached the point where it is expanding globally. Can you please explain more about this growth story?
    It is a story of hard work and commitment. My father started this as a family business in 1980 and everyone had a role. As time went on he realized that, as other tire fitters came to ask for his help sourcing tires, that there was a need for a wholesale operation to meet the growing demand.
    This is what became Oak Tyres. The business enjoyed quick but steady growth to become one of the UK’s largest tire wholesalers. It was about six years ago that we first started to make our ambition to launch our own tire brand a reality however. My brother, Gary, is an engineer and we felt that, by working with the right people, we could design and manufacture our own tire, one which could match or outperform much of the tire market but that was priced reasonably, offering dealers good margins and consumers value for money.
    The result was Davanti Tyres and since launching our first product to market we have expanded our presence to around 60 countries globally.

    How important is the Middle East market for Davanti Tyres?
    The Middle East is very important to Davanti Tyres. It is a thriving market for cars and tyres and drivers here face real issues with imported vehicles bearing unsafe tires or tires that are not GCC compliant and are unsuitable for the conditions. Davanti Tyres are fully GCC certified and offer a safe and affordable alternative to keep the drivers of the Middle East on the road.
    Which are the most popular tires that Davanti sells? Do you have tires for commercial vehicles as well as passenger cars?
    Our most popular tire is our ultra-high performance DX640. This is a lower profile tire with a sportier pattern designed for high-performance road cars and SUVs.
    We also have a light commercial van tire, the DX440, which is very popular among van drivers at a time when more and more van journeys are being made thanks to online shopping.

    Davanti announced plans to sell tires in US market in August 2018. How is the Davanti brand doing in this very competitive market?
    We did indeed announce plans for that. That is still a work in progress. The US is a complex and competitive market to trade in but it is something we are still working towards.

    Whom would you say is the typical customer for Davanti tires in the Middle East region?
    The beauty of our range is that we have a tire for everyone. Whether you drive a small city car, a saloon or sedan, a high-performance sports car, SUV, pickup or 4×4, Davanti has a tire for you.

    How different is the Middle East market from other key global markets?
    What sets the Middle East apart is twofold – sizes and conditions. The nature of the Middle East market is that there is a wide variety of cars and a thriving car culture. The result is a lot of non-standard tire sizes. Davanti’s range of more than 250 fitments can cover most size requests.
    The other factor that sets the Middle East region apart is the conditions. The heat is very harsh and if tires are not formulated and stored correctly they can deteriorate rapidly, becoming slippery and dangerous, even perishing or delaminating in some cases. All Davanti tires are designed to meet GCC criteria and are certified for sale so you can be sure that your Davanti tires will perform as well in Dubai as they do in Dublin!

    Standards in the Middle East are very strict in terms of date of manufacture and tire labelling standards. How does Davanti tackle these requirements?
    We are fully committed to these standards as they come down to one thing – driver safety. As a tire manufacturer we realize that first and foremost we are making safety devices. We are making devices designed to keep you on the road and to stop you safely when required. As I referred to earlier, the harsh conditions in the Middle East require that your standards on this are stricter than most but the result is safer roads for all. We constantly keep ourselves updated on the advice and requirements of the GCC for tire manufacture, storage, age and labelling in order to ensure our tyres can perform to the optimum level whenever they are purchased.

    Davanti has entered into a three-year partnership with leading football club, Everton. Are you planning to enter into any such marketing partnerships in the Middle East market?
    We are always happy to have conversations with potential partners, but at the moment we have not received any approaches from any potential Middle East partners.

    In 2017, Davanti Tyres received the TÜV SÜD accreditation for its DX390 high performance car tire. Has Davanti received any other similar accreditations?
    The DX390 has also been certified by IFV for it’s longevity.

    Recently, Hungarian automotive website Autonavigator.hu ranked Davanti’s DX390 car tire fifth in its Summer 2019 tire test. How does Davanti ensure tire quality as most of the company’s tires are produced through contract manufacturing?
    We work very closely with our manufacturing partners to ensure quality is maintained consistently. Remember, we contract the manufacture of these tyres, they have been designed, engineered and formulated by our research and development team. We meet with our partners regularly, face-to-face, to discuss quality and consistency and to ensure that the highest standards are maintained. The fact that we performed so well in that test shows that our quality controls work.

    As a relatively new brand, how important is participating in trade shows? What are the major trade shows in which Davanti participates?
    We participate in a number of domestic and international trade shows including Automechanika Dubai, Autopromotec and Latin American and Caribbean Tyre Expo.
    What support do you extend to your distributors in terms of training and education?
    We offer full sales training, and branding support to our partners, helping bring their sales teams up to speed on our product range and the benefits and delivering professional branding to help them represent Davanti well. Where regulations change and we need to update them, we will send teams out to deliver workshops.

    Based on your experience in this market, how important is customer service and what measures have you taken to improve customer service?
    Customer service is king and as we have grown we have developed our capabilities there, both in a B2B and B2C way.
    B2B we have a UK-based telesales team to handle business there, but that has generated a best practice which we can use to support our distributors globally.
    For consumers, the internet and social media is becoming the primary source of customer service enquiries. We have a team managing our channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Youtube ready to respond to any customer queries. It is an aspect of the business that we are always working to improve as we grow.

    Can you tell us more about a few marketing initiatives that you have carried out in recent years to increase sales in the short-term and long-term?
    Our partnership with Everton has been very helpful in raising our profile and supporting our sales objectives, never more so than during two campaigns we ran with them using top footballers like Jordan Pickford and Theo Walcott in video content to engage with social media.
    With Jordan Pickford, we surprised a fan who had raised a lot of money for charity, while Theo was pitted against Andre Gomes, Cenk Tosun and members of Everton Ladies FC in a model truck race.
    Both campaigns increased our brand awareness significantly. The challenge is that tires are a distress purchase, so influencing sales in the short-term is almost impossible. Building brand awareness to support dealers when they open conversations about Davanti is the key to growth.

    What are the kind of tires that you will be focusing on in the Middle East market?
    All our tires are GCC certified and we are able to respond to demand. We expect a greater appetite for Terratoura and the DX640 but in all honesty, if we saw another model in our range begin to spike in demand, we would respond accordingly.

    What are the future plans for the Davanti brand, both in the Middle East and globally?
    We are currently working on the development of a new ultra-high performance tire, Protoura Sport, which we unveiled at Automechanika Dubai. There is still some work to do in terms of testing to get the performance characteristics right but that will be our next major launch and we expect it to be well received in the Middle East.

    If you could sum up Davanti Tyres in just one sentence for our readers, what would that be?
    Davanti Tyres is Leading the Way.

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    Interview with Ayman Jarrar – Training Manager, Field Technical Sales, Schaeffler Middle East FZE https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/interview-with-ayman-jarrar-training-manager-field-technical-sales-schaeffler-middle-east-fze/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/interview-with-ayman-jarrar-training-manager-field-technical-sales-schaeffler-middle-east-fze/#respond Sun, 23 Jun 2019 11:57:11 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=28015 Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you started your career in the automotive field? I finished my 3 years education and hands on experience  in Heavy Commercial Vehicles – Maintenance and Repair in 1988 in Amman, Jordan. Since then I never looked back and started working in medium size to multi-national […]

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    Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you started your career in the automotive field?

    I finished my 3 years education and hands on experience  in Heavy Commercial Vehicles – Maintenance and Repair in 1988 in Amman, Jordan. Since then I never looked back and started working in medium size to multi-national companies such as SAF Holland, Exporient ME, Jordanian Military Department, and now Schaeffler.

    Schaeffler in the Automotive Aftermarket is advertising its robust service strategy. What are these services?

    We offer our partners, distributors and garages far more than just high-quality and innovative products:

    • Well thought-out repair solutions for the Aftermarket, Special tools for mistake-free, professional repairs, Technical training and services – online and offline, Effective marketing instruments,
    • Environmentally-sound waste disposal concepts from A to Z.

    Does Schaeffler offer technical training for the Automotive Aftermarket and why?

    Yes, Schaeffler offers technical training. As products become more complex, the challenges facing garages go up as well. This demands ever new ways to communicate knowledge, especially concerning failure diagnosis and repair. Schaeffler sees itself as responsible for supplying its garage and distribution customers with the necessary technical know-how. This makes an important contribution to those conducting professional repairs.

    What exactly makes the technical training seminars from Schaeffler so special?

    Our training program comes from practical experience and is meant for practical use. Our training team is made up of experienced master mechanics and technicians.  Our training seminars are modular and organized for specific target groups, and always with a focus on new product developments. The extensive amount of practical, hands on training included in our seminars is always highly appreciated.

    This systematic approach allows participants to implement the latest technologies that they learn about in their everyday work. Our Director of Products and Technical, Damianos Zongos, always see to it that the training conducted is done in a professional yet entertaining environment.

    Where can I access daily-updated information about Schaeffler´s product portfolio for the Automotive Aftermarket?

    Daily-updated product information about all four Schaeffler brands – LuK, INA, FAG and Ruville – is available in our online catalogue. This can be accessed at our REPXPERT online portal at www.repxpert.com  or on our webpage www.schaeffler.ae

    What vehicle segments are covered by the online catalogue?

    The online catalogue offers users access to a wide spectrum of product and repair-specific service information, directions about how to use the special tools needed, for the passenger car segment for the LuK, INA, FAG and Ruville brands.  Integrated as well are the light commercial vehicle, heavy commercial vehicle and transmission segments.

    What will I find when I visit the new REPXPERT?

    REPXPERT is Schaeffler’s service brand for garages.  With just a few clicks, garage professionals can find everything they need for their daily work. The new REPXPERT offers for the first time the entire product portfolios of all four brands – LuK, INA, FAG and Ruville.  The core element of the online platform is the TecDoc-based online catalog with all vehicle manufacturers. Schaeffler is the only company in the Automotive Aftermarket to offer an electronic version. REPXPERT users can find the right replacement part fast and easily, and get optimal assistance for conducting professional repair. In addition, users have access to all materials available for each Schaeffler product like installation videos, technical brochures and service information.  A further plus is the link to the TecRMI information system, which means REPXPERT offers a wide spectrum of vehicle-specific repair and maintenance information, setting data, filling capacities and labor values. These are now available, effective immediately, to our customers for products from the Schaeffler portfolio at no cost.

    What are some of the most recent Schaeffler products that have been launched here in the Middle East market?

    We have launched the FAG SmartSET bearing which reduces repair-related downtime to a minimum. In the older days, we spend time in cleaning and greasing wheel bearings when repairing it. With FAG SmartSET, it is no longer necessary to do it. Thanks to optimized product properties, the set saves one wheel bearing repair during the service life of trucks and reduces the time needed for each subsequent brake repair. The FAG SmartSET offers advantages for dealers, garages, and fleet operators.

    What are the main challenges when it comes to automotive repair in the Middle East?

    The rapid development of the vehicle industry and the availability of few technicians qualified for the work of repairs.

    In general, what is your opinion about the skill levels and expertise of staff employed here at vehicle service centers?

    The staff here are in urgent need of continuous training with regard to the development and repair of motor vehicles.

    What steps do you think vehicle dealers and parts suppliers here can take to minimize the widespread use of fake parts and grey market parts? Has Schaeffler taken any measures to ensure that customers are getting genuine Schaeffler components?

    The Schaeffler OriginCheck app enables you to check data matrix codes directly on bearings or their packaging. The scan checks the code in real time and the user immediately receives a confirmation of the authenticity of the Schaeffler Data Matrix Code. More information can be found on the web page:  https://www.one-identity-plus.com/en/place-of-excellence-2018/ .

    What are the biggest challenges that you face in this market?

    Customers are more mature and price sensitive.  They do not have enough time and want more satisfaction with products and services. They are less concerned with the brand of manufacturers and are more receptive to vendor brands and general products.  They have high expectations about the service.

    How are you using web-based channels to engage with your customers in this digital age?

    We use Content Marketing to push our existing, valuable and relevant content into a defined audience with the help of marketing tools, such as targeting, media budget, advertising, analytics, and campaigning.

    We promote Schaeffler as a leading expert in the fields of innovation and technology with systems and production expertise . We draw attention to the quality of Schaeffler products and benefits they provide to customers in an interactive manner.

    What do you enjoy most about your career at Schaeffler?

    We at Schaeffler are all ambassadors. I like the dedication and the core values that each of us embodies inside and outside Schaeffler’s world. I enjoy the multi cultural environment, the respect regardless of your religion, the integrity and the family atmosphere that makes me come to work with a smile on my face. The free flowing coffee in the morning and the jokes that no one takes seriously.

    If there is one thing that you would like to share with our readers, what would that be?

    To live with integrity and to be a role model for everyone, especially to your children and to give them time.

     

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    Interview with Ruhollah Rezaei – Al Nouf Tyres (SEAM Tyres) https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/interview-with-ruhollah-rezaei-al-nouf-tyres-seam-tyres/ https://tiresandparts.net/news/interviews/interview-with-ruhollah-rezaei-al-nouf-tyres-seam-tyres/#respond Thu, 13 Jun 2019 11:58:22 +0000 https://tiresandparts.net/?p=28018 Can you please give us some general information about your career so far and how you came to start SEAM TYRE?  SEAM TYRE was established in Taiwan in 2006. The factory originally manufactured only smaller sized tyres and now we have multiple factories spread across different locations to widen the product portfolio. The company now […]

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    Can you please give us some general information about your career so far and how you came to start SEAM TYRE?

     SEAM TYRE was established in Taiwan in 2006. The factory originally manufactured only smaller sized tyres and now we have multiple factories spread across different locations to widen the product portfolio. The company now deals with the production of a full range of tyre. The size of the tyre produced ranges from 12 inches to 24 inches catering for Light Truck, PCR, Sand Tyre, and very soon we will be producing TBR too.

    Where do you source the tyres from?

    Our brand SEAM TYRE is produced in Taiwan and China by factories that are equipped with the state-of-the-art machinery and modern most advanced production technologies.

     The Middle East is a market in which customers are very conscious about both price and quality. Why should customers in the Middle East prefer SEAM TYRE to other brands?

    We endeavor to provide our customers with the highest level of assurance regarding the quality of the tyres.

    Through our direct involvement in the Research & Development with the factory our patterns are designed with maximum fuel efficiency, traction, and minimum noise level in mind.  To maintain the road safety each and every SEAM TYRE is tested prior to being shipped out of the factory.  We offer 80,000km or One-year warranty for each SEAM TYRE that is delivered to the end-users.  Above all is the quality products at a completive price.

    In addition to the UAE, which other markets do you distribute SEAM TYRES?

    Globally we have a presence in more than seventeen countries.  In GCC we cover Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and Iraq market.   We have stablished distribution channels in East and west Europe too.   SEAM TYRE has a strong presence in Asia, CIS, Africa and Russia too.  We are looking for agents in new markets too.

    Which are the most popular tyres for passenger cars that SEAM TYRE sells?

    It varies geographically but in the Gulf our SUVs series, and our SAND tyres are really popular.

    In addition to the sale of tyres, do you offer any other value-added vehicle related services?

    Yes, in addition to our wholesale division we have established our one stop shop brand as Tire.ae.  At Tire.ae we offer all vehicle related services such as Tyres, Batteries, Alignment, Mechanical work, Brake pads, Lubricant, plus full car detailing and ceramic coating etc.  We further offer free tyre rotation & free alignment check for our customers.

    Tell us more about your distribution network. What support do you extend to your distributors in terms of training and education?

    There are currently around 400 retail outlets in the UAE that stock and sell SEAM TYRE. In terms of marketing support, we provide all kinds of support for marketing SEAM TYRE, such as signboards, promotional items, and work attire for their employees. We are very active on social media platforms with regard to promotions and contests. We have regular giveaways with attractive prizes as broadcasted on the ARN (Arabian Network Radio) channels.

    What are some of the challenges that you face in this market?

    Like every other business, one main challenge is timely receipt of payments from the local customers. The other challenge is ensuring that the supply chain delivery is smooth. As we are expanding our distribution network across the globe, we occasionally have to monitor the demand which exceed the production. Hence, we have to maintain our lead-time and to ensure that customers receive their orders on time.

    What are your future plans for SEAM TYRE?

    We are pursuing a path of continual growth. We want to explore new markets while continuing to offer the widest range of products and the best customer service in the markets we currently serve.

    What do you think about the long-term and short-term outlook for the tire market in the UAE?

    Based on current projections regarding the number of cars in the region and the outlook for the aftermarket, the outlook is quite bright in the short-term. It would not be wise on my part to make long-term predictions but the government in the UAE is quite supportive in terms of trade and the automotive industry in general and is highly visionary. Hence, the chances are quite good that the tire market will continue to do well in the long term as well.

    The UAE is a regional hub for tyre trade in the Middle East, how important is this in term of export market for SEAM tyre?

    The UAE serves as a key focal point for trade for the entire Middle East and Africa markets. If you have a presence in this market, you can easily extend your reach to the key countries in these markets. According to a recent report that I read, in 2018, the car sales figures in the Middle East crossed 21 million. The sale of new passenger cars sales reached 1.03 million units while sale of commercial vehicles reached 270,000 units last year. Those figures are highly impressive.

    What do you think about the requirements for tyre labelling and RFID stickers in the UAE? Do you think this has helped to reduce the sale of poor quality tyre in the UAE market? Has it created any difficulties for retailers?

    Obtaining the SASO and GSO certifications has been a major challenge for us. It is a very time consuming and expensive process.  But I think, in the long-term this strictness about standards will be beneficial for customers as they can then be sure about the quality and safety of the tyres which they buy.  Manufacturers who are serious about having a long-term presence in this market will not have any issues about complying with the standards and regulations.  Those traders who are looking for quick profits by selling substandard products will not be able to last in the market.

    Can you please tell us about Tire.ae and how it started?

    Tire.ae was started with quality and time in mind.  Tire.ae started to provide direct service to our local customers who are quality and time conscious when it comes to required services for their vehicle.  We provide a full online shopping portal where our customers can communicate live with our sales team and book their service prior to coming to Tire.ae.  This will minimize their waiting time in the center.  Furthermore, we have fully equipped mobile units which can offer full roadside assistance, including tyres and batteries replacement at the customers’ door step.

    Of course, the importance of e-commerce, especially in a market like the UAE cannot be underestimated.  Here, shopping is all about convenience.  You only have to see how popular apps and sites like Careem, Uber, souq, noon etc have become to understand how big e-commerce has become in this market. I read in a recent newspaper article that the UAE’s e-commerce market is estimated to be worth USD 27.1 billion by 2022. Customers just have to visit Tire.ae to choose and purchase the tyre that are most suitable for their vehicle and with our wide network of retail outlets, getting the tyre installed is fast and convenient.

    Customer service is very important part of the tyre purchase process. How do you ensure that your customers benefit from the highest levels of customer service?

    Every new customer is important to us and my focus is not just on acquiring customers but retaining them with the highest level of service possible.

    What is the importance of the retail business from a tyre distributor’s perspective?

    The retail business provides us with the opportunity of a direct contact with our customers and learn more about their requirements and preferences.  We get their feedbacks on what they really expect from the products and services, their views on tradeoff between price and quality, and other desired characteristics that they look for.  A direct feedback from the end-user is very helpful for us specialty when we add new tyre to our growing portfolio.

    Visit our website: www.tire.ae

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