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
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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