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Dubai: BMW is gearing up for the electric vehicle revolution

BMW has launched a new Training Centre in Dubai, to maximize its EV offerings and to enhance their overall customer service.

The Training Centre is part of BMW's attempt to "future-proof" its business As a first in the region, the 5,300 sqm facility has the capacity to train up to 2,000 sales, after-sales and technical staff The BMW i3 continues to be the best selling Premium BEV in the compact segment worldwide since 2014, according to Dr. Hamid Haqparwar, Managing Director at BMW Group ME

With the UAE hoping for 10% of the vehicles on its roads being electric by 2030, automotive companies have been ramping up their EV (electric vehicle) offerings. Dubai, for example, has witnessed the rollout of around 4000 hybrid and electric vehicles to the Emirate’s roads, according to Faisal Rashid, a director at the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy. Of those vehicles, only 1000 are electric.

To help achieve the country’s goals of an electric, sustainable future, BMW launched a new Training Centre in Dubai last week. This Centre will seek to “future-proof” the company and bring its staff up to speed on the latest EV developments and technologies.

To learn more about the Centre, its offerings, and BMW’s overall strategy regarding electric, AMEinfo spoke to Dr. Hamid Haqparwar, Managing Director at BMW Group Middle East.

“As a first in the region, the 5,300 sqm facility has the capacity to train up to 2,000 sales, after-sales and technical staff in the most up-to-date developments in automotive technology, including hybrid and all-electric vehicles, as well as the latest customer care initiatives,” he said.

On the topic of the Training Centre, which skills do you believe will be most crucial in the upcoming electric vehicle revolution? 

The new Training Centre is a key part of BMW Group’s ambitious plans to ensure it is ‘future-proofed’ and prepared to fully embrace major advances in mobility. Topics such as electrification, autonomous driving and increasing connectivity are omnipresent and opening up new experiences.

Staff from BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce will attend the trainings to learn the skills needed to prepare for the ongoing electrification of the automotive industry, including the introduction of autonomous vehicles.

Can you share us with some of these skills that you will be teaching at the Centre, as well as the kinds of courses you are offering?

The Centre has the capacity to train up to 2,000 sales, after-sales and technical staff from 14 importer markets in the most up-to-date developments in automotive technology including electrification as well as the latest customer care initiatives and brand recognition information.

Specific training on how to handle electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles was previously conducted in Europe and Asia for our regional importers that have launched these cars in their respective markets. This is no longer necessary now.

The new Centre will act as a strategic hub for the region with staff from across our Middle East network receiving all the necessary training, no matter if it is technical or non-technical.

The Centre will also accommodate staff from other regions, who will travel to Dubai for the latest expert training. Its location in Dubai, and in Dubai South in particular, means the Centre can easily be accessed by regional and international staff.

We will host technical sessions for our staff along with theoretical lectures and courses that focus on each of our brands, from BMW to MINI and Rolls-Royce.

The all-electric BMW i3s and the MINI PHEV will further boost the company’s electric vehicle offering when they are released in the region this year.

Therefore the new Training Centre will also offer highly specialised ‘High Voltage Expert’ training to staff who will work with electrified BMW Group vehicles. It will be one out of three Centres worldwide to currently offer that specific training.

The Training Center will host the first compulsory program as of this April, which will be a ‘Brand Training’ for all customer-facing staff. This will kickstart with our regional staff and will then host staff from neighbouring markets.

What kind of experts have you hired to teach there? 

All training at the new BMW Group Training Centre will be conducted by a highly qualified team of BMW Group experts. They are also fully knowledgeable in every aspect of the company’s range of electrified vehicles: from their operation, repair, to sales and service programs.

In a 2016 US study by Sierra Club, it was found that 50% of dealerships didn’t have staff knowledgeable enough to advise customers on EVs. 14% didn’t have any EVs charged-up and ready for a test drive. In that same study, BMW was revealed to be the 2nd best brand in terms of the customer EV shopping experience. What do you think BMW offered that other brands weren’t able to, and how will this quality of service be propagated and improved on with the new Training Centre?

Since 2017, we have seen a shift towards electric vehicles here in the Middle East and we expect this trend to continue in the next 5-10 years as demand for electric vehicles and hybrid models increases.

Although competition in the EV segment (battery electric vehicles/BEV+plug-in hybrid electric vehicle/PHEV together) is getting tougher, BMW i kept its leading position: 

Globally:          Position #1 within the traditional premium brands
Europe: Position #1 in the total market
Germany:        Position #1 in the Premium market

The BMW i3 continues to be the best selling Premium BEV in the compact segment worldwide since 2014.

The BMW i8 continues to be the most successful Hybrid-Sports-Car worldwide since 2014.

Since its launch in 2013, the BMW i3 has become the world’s most successful electrically powered vehicle in the premium compact segment.

We live in a region where customers are very service-oriented. They expect a bespoke service across all sectors, especially in a competitive automotive marketplace. And our new Training Centre provides the perfect answer to this ever-growing demand.

Can you share with us some figures on the sales performance of your EV models (locally, regionally or internationally)?

(The ever-popular BMW i3 BEV)

By 2025, BMW Group will globally offer 25 electrified models (12 fully-electric cars and 13 plug-in hybrids). We expect electrified vehicles (BEVs + PHEVs) to account for between 15-25% of our global sales.

BMW plans to have 500,000 electric vehicles on the road worldwide by the end of 2019. In 2017 we sold more than 100.000 electrified vehicles. In 2018 over 140.000.

We have an exciting product roadmap in the years ahead, which we’re looking forward to launching. The next fully-electric models will be: MINI Electric (2019), BMW iX3 (2020), BMW i4 (2021) and BMW iNEXT (2021).

BMW’s iPerformance range in the Middle East (which includes BMW 330e iPerformance, BMW 530e iPerformance, BMW 740Le iPerformance, BMW X5 XDrive40e, the BMW i8 and the BMW i8 Roadster) has proved to be an attractive, practical and premium option for customers who are looking to make the switch from traditional petrol-powered cars.

The all-electric MINI Countryman PHEV will boost the company’s electric vehicle offering when it is released in the region this year while the BMW i3s is also set to be launched later this year (it can already be ordered) and will be at the vanguard of regional moves to make e-mobility a more attractive option for motorists.

BMW Group is globally also rapidly moving ahead with plans to introduce fully autonomous vehicles, with the highly automated BMW iNext due to become available in 2021. Due to spearhead the automotive marque’s next generation mobility, the BMW iNext will revolutionize transport for the 21st century. 

How can customers be incentivized to purchase EV vehicles?

(BMW i8 hybrid sports car)

Offering a sustainable yet visually pleasing model packed with performance capabilities is what will mainly attract consumers in the region. We hit the nerve with our BMW i and BMW iPerformance models. BMW iPerformance is globally the best selling Premium PHEV brand since 2015 and the following models are available in our region: BMW 330e iPerformance, 530e iPerformance, 740Le iPerformance, and BMW X5 XDrive40e, which join the existing plug-in hybrid BMW i8 and the BMW i8 Roadster.

The automotive industry will continue to see an increase towards smarter, cleaner and sustainable mobility. As for BMW Group Middle East, we are on the path for cleaner transportation across the region since 2015 – with the introduction of the BMW i3 in Jordan back then and you can already order the BMW i3s now in the UAE.