Can you please give us some general information about yourself and how you became a part of the automotive industry?
Already as a child I was fascinated by cars, building them out of Lego. Later this developed into a passion for all mechanical things and how they worked, such as cars, planes, etc. When I was a teenager, I started to tune and increase the performance of my motor cycle, later on I fixed my cars on my own. From there it was only a short step into the automotive industry. Starting with General Motors in 1989, I held various executive positions in European, South American and Asia Pacific countries, mainly overseeing country or regional Marketing & Sales operations, and also serving as a member of the board. Later I led the Spanish country operations of Kia and the Swiss operations of Chevrolet. The last two positions I held before joining Borgward were CEO of Cadillac Europe and CEO of Volvo Switzerland.
You moved to Borgward from Volvo. How do you compare working with an established brand to reviving Borgward?
There are certain “one-time” opportunities you have in life, such as when you pass your university exam, or your child gets borne. Being part of the team, who has the chance to revive the Borgward brand is such a “one-time” opportunity, since you can bring in all your gained experience and yet have the freedom to re-shape a brand from its history. Very challenging, but at the same time, very rewarding experience. It is great to do this work, because all of us are very passionate about the brand and go to work every day with a lot of enthusiasm.
Borgward was one of the leading vehicle manufacturers in Germany and had a colourful history in the world of motorsports. What relevance does this history have in the age of electric vehicles and self-driving cars?
We have a great history and we are proud of it. At the same time, our history is an obligation. Carl F.W. Borgward built cars that were innovative and forward-looking, cars that featured the most modern and useful technology at the time. Our vehicle development philosophy today is no different. Together with leading technology providers we have developed our e-propulsion system, which will be the platform for all future Borgward electric vehicles. The BXi7 will be the first vehicle to carry this technology. Other standard models will follow. And in the mid-term perspective, we may even produce a car like the Isabella concept car that we presented in Frankfurt this year, a beautiful electric coupé.
Which models will spearhead Borgward’s strategy in the Middle East? Can you tell us more about these models?
We are entering the market with two SUV models that will widen the region’s offering of top vehicles.
The BX7 is an elegant and sophisticated mid-size SUV that offers a lot of space and a dynamic driving experience. It can be ordered as a 5- or 7-seat version and is equipped with a 2.0-liter direct injection turbo engine (224 hp / 300 NM torque).
The BX5 is an energetic, sporty wide-body compact SUV. It was built for young and smart drivers. With a more youthful character than the BX7, this model features a 1.8-liter direct injection turbo engine (188 hp / 280 NM torque).
Customers in the Gulf States can count on us to deliver many more exciting vehicles. Borgward has a very dynamic development plan. We plan to launch at least one new model every year in the years to come. And we are also considering expanding the engine range of our models.
Whom would you say would be a typical Borgward buyer in this market? Who are your target audience when it comes to marketing campaigns?
There can never be just one type of car buyer. But likely, our customers will be progressive modern mainstream, customers who enjoy life and who are looking for a young, smart and inspiring partner for their automotive needs.
How do customer preferences vary across the different markets in the Middle East and how different is the Middle East market from other key global markets like China and the United States?
In a global perspective, regional markets vary in terms of preferred segments. Some markets like big sedans, others like MPVs. Then you have strong C-segment hatchback markets, like in Europe, but you hardly see these vehicles in other markets. It is more important to see the commonalities. The SUV segment is now the biggest segment of all, in all markets in the world. And it is still growing. For this reason, we chose this type of vehicle for our comeback. And our cars, with their quality German engineering, distinct wing-line styling and elegant, connected interior, make them a very attractive choice.
In this market, support from your distributor plays a key role in the success of an automotive brand. Which company will you be collaborating with for distribution in this region?
Union Motors LLC in the UAE, Yousif Awadi Group in Bahrain, The Al-Zayani Trading Co. in Kuwait, and The Taleb Group in Qatar.
Borgward is new to this market. What are your main concerns as you launch your vehicles in this market?
We are very excited to enter this market. It has so much potential for Borgward. The first milestones we need to reach in the Middle East are:
1. establishing a high brand awareness
2. directing customers to our showrooms, so that we can prove to them that our cars are excellent
3. becoming a real partner for customers.
I am sure that we will achieve this, together with our distributors.
Customers in this market are spoilt for choice when it comes to buying vehicles. There are plenty of options for every budget and category. How will you differentiate Borgward from other brands in such a crowded market?
When you look at Middle East markets, they are clearly dominated by Korean and Japanese brands, even though higher priced German cars are more desirable. Borgward fills a gap here, with products that have the elegance, dynamics and quality of a German brand but with a more attractive price range.
Can you tell us more about what kind of marketing initiatives you are planning for this region to establish your presence in the market?
I don’t want to spoil the show. You will soon see increased activity from our distributors.
Can you tell us more about your short-term and long-term goals for Borgward in the region?
We aim to develop high-end intelligent vehicles that cater to the fine taste of the Middle Eastern customers. Vehicles, which feature outstanding German engineering and design. We will also work to give our customers an excellent brand experience, becoming a trusted partner. Showrooms, brand centers and service quality will be very important in this respect.
Sponsorships and participation in events all help to promote brand awareness. Do you feel that the Dubai International Motor Show was a good platform to launch the brand here? Are there any particular events or partnerships which you will be taking up in the future?
Yes, The Dubai Motor Show was the right place to launch the brand, as it regularly achieves a high level of awareness among consumers in the entire region.
Borgward is exploring several sponsoring opportunities. Just to name one, we will be participating in the Dakar Rally 2018. It will be helpful for the development of sportier and even more robust vehicles in the future. Borgward has a strong motor sports history. The brand had several teams that successfully participated in races and rallies in the 1950s.
The availability of good service and genuine spare parts is a key concern among consumers. How will you ensure this?
BORGWARD will provide comprehensive customer service, which not only covers the product warranty and maintenance, but one which is also focused on an improved customer experience, whereby customers can use an APP that communicates directly with relevant service parties, which can help BORGWARD improve and upgrade its service capabilities.
We have a dedicated technical team responsible for solving technical issues in the market and all technical issues will be answered within 24 hours; if necessary, we will send a service engineer to assist the dealer to solve the technical issue.
At present, the spare parts are ready for customer orders. At the same time, BORGWARD is establishing regional spare parts centers to shorten the time necessary to complete orders.
BORGWARD RDC warehouse of GCC area, located in the heart of Dubai JEBEL ALI free zone this warehouse has more than 10,000 square meters of storage area, with more than 5 storeys of warehouse shelves and more than 2,000 kinds of spare parts reserves .Through this warehouse, we can shorten the delivery cycle of emergency parts of any country in the GCC region to 1-5 days.
Tires & Parts is an online automotive news portal. What kind of online presence are you planning for the Middle East region?
It will be a good mix of owned, earned and paid content. The geographical reach and depth of communications is currently being planned by our distributors in the region.
Can you sum up in one sentence what Borgward is all about for the benefit of our readers?
Borgward is a true partner for car buyers who are inspired by high-end vehicles with quality engineering and elegant-dynamic design.
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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