• Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a part of Bosch?
Following the completion of my post-graduation in UK, I started my career in 2002 in Olmuksa A.S where I carried out different tasks in manufacturing as well as Quality Assurance functions until 2004. Afterwards, I joined Bosch in Sales of Original Equipment Department and I took care of Supplier Quality and Warranty topics, switched to Application and Project Management function in 2006, and dealt with Chassis System Brake and Chassis System Control Projects for the local Turkish Market. I was then assigned as Project Leader in Robert Bosch France S.A.S. and stayed in Paris between 2006 and 2008 and led some projects carried out for the Malaysian, Indian and Iranian Original Equipment Manufacturers.
Between 2008 and 2010, I took over the sales management role again in Original Equipment Sales in Bosch Iran and moved to Tehran. I then took on the role of Technical Sales and Application Director in Original Equipment Sales for Turkish and Iranian OEM business and returned to Turkey from Iran by 2010.
It was in September 2015 that I joined the Automotive Aftermarket Business unit as Regional Director, responsible for Turkey and Iran. By the beginning of 2017, my responsibility was extended to cover the Middle East as well.
• Can you tell us more about the products that Bosch offers in this market?
The Automotive Aftermarket division (AA) provides aftermarket and repair shops worldwide with a complete range of diagnostic and workshop equipment along with a wide range of spare parts ranging from new and exchange parts to repair solutions, as well as services such as training, hot line from two wheelers to passenger cars and commercial vehicles to large engines. The company’s product portfolio includes products made as Bosch original equipment, as well as aftermarket products and services developed and manufactured in-house. More than 16,000 associates in 150 countries, as well as a global logistics network, ensure that some 450,000 different spare parts reach our customers on time. In our Automotive Service Solutions operations, AA supplies testing and repair-shop technology, diagnostic software, service training, and information services. In addition, the division is responsible for the Bosch Service repair-shop franchise, one of the world’s largest independent chains of repair-shops, with some 16,000 franchises.
• You assumed responsibility for the Middle East region from January 2017. How has the market in the region changed in the past year?
In fact, the market in the region is constantly evolving along with end mobility users, as well as wholesalers, part distributors and workshop owners. Awareness and expectations on part quality, technical coverage and technical compatibility are increasing every day. We expect that the expanded use of augmented reality for the vehicle owner and supporting organizations such as repair workshops, police stations and insurance companies, will be a major avenue for growth for Bosch. Augmented reality is set to have a major impact on the Middle East aftermarket. In line with developing the workforce in KSA, this technology will play a crucial role in bridging the skills gap of technicians in the automotive aftermarket.
• You have handled different markets like France, Malaysia, India and Turkey. In what way is the market in the Middle East different from these markets? Are there any common factors that you see across the globe?
One common feature in all markets is that the mobility user and workshop owners, require quality parts, that are available and can be delivered when they need at an affordable price level. In Europe, we see significant increase in online sales for ‘do it by yourself’ purposes whereas in Eastern countries like Turkey, Iran and Middle East we still work on a ‘do it for me’ model. Therefore, the structure and capability of part distributors, wholesalers and workshops are very important to cater to the demands of all mobility users.
• New trends like ride sharing and electrification of vehicles are evolving at a rapid pace in the automotive sector. How have these developments affected Bosch? How will they affect the aftermarket segment in general?
At Bosch, we are constantly evolving too. One field that has seen a lot of development is electro-mobility. We offer our customers powertrain systems for hybrid and electric vehicles. This includes electric motors, power electronics units, charging devices, and batteries, as well as regenerative braking systems. In the U.S, Bosch recently acquired the start-up SPLT, who have developed a rideshare app for commuters, allowing rush hour to be less stressful. In the UAE, the country’s focus on electric cars and the many incentives they provide for buyers have resulted in increased electric car sales in the country – a move that is particularly favorable for the Automotive Aftermarket unit.
• Do you feel that the Middle East market in general is receptive to such new technologies?
We find the changes currently taking place in the Middle East very encouraging – especially when we talk about the countries of the GCC such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The UAE, in particular, has emerged has a hub for connected mobility, ride sharing – with local companies like Careem – and electric cars.
The trucking industry has a lot of room for improvement through automation and connectedness. At Bosch, we are envisioning a driver interface that is easy to use with a smartphone, with clear control structures that would allow the driver to focus their attention on the road while an electronic resource manager keeps information for drivers at a sensible minimum so that they can prioritize.
The demand for urban smart mobility concepts is rising rapidly worldwide, and Dubai will face the same challenges as any other metropolis. Megacities across the globe are full to bursting point. In many places, there is a threat of total gridlock. In the future, Bosch will focus more on developing and providing mobility solutions in connected, smart cities.
The leadership of the UAE, and specifically Dubai, is to be commended for its ambitious smart city vision, keeping the needs of citizens and residents in mind. The recent announcement that the UAE is preparing federal rules for automated vehicles is a testament to that commitment. We are following developments closely and look forward to reading the law once it is finalized.
• Piracy is one important issue that affects the automotive aftermarket in this region. In what way has Bosch worked with its customers to counter this threat?
Unfortunately, the existence of counterfeit products is one of the main major challenges in the Automotive Aftermarket. Currently, the most secure way to access Bosch original spare parts in the market is to buy these spare parts from Bosch Authorised Distributors and the Bosch Service Network. We are working on this issue together with our partners and our legal advisors are actively working on this issue. Our partners are taking their own precautions and are using techniques that have been successful in the past like holograms and barcoding systems.
In fact, this can also be minimized by the right policies. Again, first you must make your products available and reachable at the right price level in the country.
From the beginning of 2017, we ensured one price policy in the Middle East and minimized the price deviations across countries, a move that we can clearly see the positive impacts of today and consider an achievement.
• Are there any challenges that are specific to this region?
The last few years have been interesting, with economic fluctuations within the region having an impact on our outlook. However, in the face of this, we recorded encouraging growth for FY 2016 and double-digit growth for the year 2017. We believe that with the ongoing recovery of oil prices and a host of new infrastructure projects being initiated by GCC governments, the outlook for our business looks promising indeed.
The Middle East is an important region to us, and we plan to keep strengthening our business units across the board and investing in new and growing facilities to accommodate demand for our products and services. GCC governments are investing in developments, and there are several mega-projects under development where there are great opportunities for Bosch products and services to contribute products and services.
• In what ways is Bosch working with technicians and its distributors to help them to adapt to new technologies?
In 2017, we took over responsibility for the East region and merged our organizations located in Istanbul, Dubai and Tehran. We work in a multinational environment with colleagues from many different nationalities, making up a team of more than 70 skilled and highly competent people.
It is our task to give our customers, as well to the market the fullest support in all areas.
The multinational and intercultural environment nourishes our spirit and we are a very motivated team that works with full commitment and thinks entrepreneurially. We value trust and open communication between our customers and we aim to inspire our customers. Our goal is not only sales growth, but also customer development in all areas of the company through a spirit of partnership.
Additionally, we directly support the market in restructuring existing services and workshops with our available training and workshop services and facilities.
• Last March, Bosch opened its largest regional tools and equipment showroom in the Middle East in Jeddah. What is the outlook for the Saudi market, especially with the entry of women motorists?
At Bosch, we welcome the new developments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially the entry of women motorists. This will lead to the addition of more motorists within the country and thus improve the prospects for the Automotive Aftermarket division.
• What is the short-term and long-term outlook for the automotive aftermarket in this region?
First, we would like to expand our Bosch Service Network by adding new services as well as transforming existing ones into Professional Bosch Services. This will create healthy demand and pull effect from the market since the mobility users will be serviced with original, high quality Bosch products in those services.
At the same time, we are also working on expanding our portfolio either by adding new products lines and increasing our coverage to meet the specific demand of the Middle East vehicle parking requirements.
Finally, but importantly, along with our distributors we are developing new strategies, supporting them to increase their number of distribution channels, increase their regional coverage and encouraging them to directly touch the mobility users.
Within the framework of mobility transformation, Bosch is and will remain one of the main driving forces and contributors to shape the future and through our solutions, we ensure our business within the automotive industry continues to grow faster than before.
To this end, around 60 000 Bosch researchers spread across 120 different locations are working to lead the change in the industry. Our objective is to develop innovative, useful, and exciting products and solutions that enhance quality of life – technology that is “Invented for life.”
On the other hand, it is important that all our stakeholders are also prepared for the future. We all need to invest in the future and particularly in the areas of logistic and IT infrastructure.
On the way to the future, we will continue to frame our strategies with them.
I have my full confidence that through full commitment, dedication and close collaboration with our stakeholders, we will be more successful than ever and deliver what we promised together.
This is what we, at Bosch call ‘’what drives you, drives us‘’.
• Customers in the UAE, unlike those in Europe and North America change their cars within a short period. Do you see this changing in the near future and thus having an impact on sales?
Our business is directly linked to vehicle population in the market and the average age of the vehicles. It is obvious that the new cars do require less service. However, those cars also do require high level of maintenance with high-tech equipment and knowhow which can also be provided by Bosch Service Network with our quality parts.
• Are you planning to launch any new products or technologies in this region? Can you share a few details?
As Bosch Automotive Aftermarket Business Unit, we provide spare parts to up to 110 thousand units in 11 product ranges in Middle East. These include diesel systems, gasoline injection systems, filter systems, spark plugs, brake systems, steering systems, starters, electric motors, wiper systems, lighting systems, belts, batteries and rotary motors.
We have clear strategy and direction to fully utilize our existing portfolio for both passenger and commercial vehicles.
Additionally, we offer a wide range of workshop test equipment (diesel test benches, air conditioning equipment, etc.) and related software.
Every year we are also expanding our portfolio through adding new product lines and increasing our coverage in the market.
• What are your plans for the Middle East region? Will you be entering any new markets this year?
Our direction will be to ensure our continuous growth in Turkey, carry on building up the Iranian market as well as increasing our distribution and channels in the Middle East along with our partners and services. We will also be focusing this year to expand our Service network in the region while we are expanding our portfolio either by adding new product lines or increasing our coverage to meet the specific demand of the Middle East vehicle parking needs.
As part of the mobility transformation at Bosch, Bosch developers in the automotive aftermarket field also rely on efficient diagnostic products and software. We will then introduce them gradually into the Middle East market.
A very important step in mobility transformation that we have recently taken is a Bosch-Daimler cooperation agreement for a pilot city for automated driving.
Bosch and Daimler are speeding up the development of fully automated and driverless driving in the city and are decisively setting the course. The partners have chosen California as the pilot location for the first test fleet. In the second half of 2019, Bosch and Daimler will offer customers a shuttle service with automated vehicles on selected routes in a Californian metropolis. Daimler Mobility Services is envisaged as the operator of this test fleet and the app-based mobility service. The pilot project will demonstrate how mobility services such as car sharing (car2go), ride hailing (mytaxi) and multi-modal platforms (moovel) can be intelligently connected to shape the future of mobility. In addition, the partners have decided on the US technology company Nvidia as the supplier of the artificial intelligence platform as part of their control unit network.
• What do you enjoy most about working for Bosch?
I think the “We lead Bosch” principle and the approach we have adopted at our organizations worldwide are very inspirational. We strongly believe in every associate – we lead ourselves, we lead our own business and we lead Bosch.
We continue to develop, grow and learn as individuals and an organization based on mutual trust and open communication, open to innovation and supporting change. We learn from our mistakes, we use autonomous, passionate, uncompromising and ethical behavior and above all, move and live according to our values.
Within all those principles, I am proud to be working for Bosc
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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