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.
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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