Complex Made Simple

Growing appetite for luxury goods in Middle East to boost auto sector – Bruce Rober

"The car of the future will become more capable, cleaner, more connected, more desirable and smarter"

A chat with Bruce Robertson, Managing Director for Jaguar Land Rover.

How was the performance Jaguar Land Rover last year and at the 1st half of 2015 in terms of, growth, sales, and customer service in the MENA region??

In 2014, Jaguar Land Rover achieved a solid sales performance in MENA, up 6 per cent across both brands. We witnessed an 8 per cent increase in Land Rover sales, driven by strong demand for our Range Rover Sport and flagship Range Rover vehicles, two of the best-selling models in the region.

This year, we have continued to see both of our brands go from strength to strength in the Middle East which is one of the reasons why this market has moved up to be the fourth-largest market in terms of volumes for Jaguar Land Rover globally.

Which are the most sold Jaguar Land Rover models in the region?

We are extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve in terms of sales over the years. For Land Rover, our best-selling models remain the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport while the Range Rover Evoque has also continued to grow in volumes since its launch in 2010. Our recently introduced Discovery Sport has seen outstanding success among our customers here, contributing in no small part to the growth of our brand in MENA.

As for Jaguar, we have a broad product range — the XJ, the All-New XF, the F-TYPE Convertible and Coupé — that we believe suits our clientele in the Middle East and enables us to reach a large segment of customers. The recently launched All-New Jaguar XE and soon to arrive Jaguar F-PACE will unlock new segments for our brand and have been very well received so far which makes us confident this will be reflected in Jaguar’s sales results.

What do you see as advantages as well as challenges in this market?

Economic booms and busts have always been a part of human history. A variety of different reasons can cause the derail of sales growth in the short term; however, I believe that in the medium to long term the MENA growth story will continue.

There is a general tendency in economics for innovation to lead to increased economic activity and growth. As the UK’s biggest investor in manufacturing research and development, Jaguar Land Rover is leading the way in developing innovative new solutions to make cars smarter, cleaner and safer. By introducing new products and solutions to the market, we are able to create new opportunities for the business, extend our line up and reach new customers across different segments.

Due to the expected increase of the population growth along with the number of mega-projects planned for the upcoming years, there is still a huge appetite for luxury goods in the Middle East and as a manufacturer of premium luxury vehicles we are well placed to capitalise on this in the years ahead.

What will be the impact of the current decline in oil price on the auto market in GCC countries

Any decline in the oil price will have an effect on the economies of the Middle East. However, certain of the GCC countries have substantial capital reserves with which they can weather the storm of lower oil prices. There still remains a level of confidence in the performance of some of the local economies and whilst the oil price is not at an optimal level we remain confident of the performance of the economic environment in which we operate. We are generally optimistic for growth within the region and continue to expand with products and other investments that are suited for the markets in which we operate.

Has the UAE market witnessed any drop in sales of SUV segment last few months after deregulation of petrol prices?

We have not noticed any change in the sale of vehicles as a result of the deregulation of fuel prices. Relative to other parts of the world, the amount consumers spend on fuel as a percentage of earnings is extremely low. Deregulation of fuel prices also implies a move up and down- we do not foresee there being a significant change in vehicle buying patterns in our sector of the market.

Hybrid cars start to take place in UAE market slowly, so what’s your plan for the coming years in this segment?

On a product front, we focus on manufacturing vehicles that meet the needs of our customers now and long into the future. Jaguar Land Rover is continuously investing in R&D to make our cars smarter, cleaner and safer.

Our research in this segment has led to firsts such as our intelligent stop/start technology offering fuel saving opportunities and our hybrid and electric solutions which led to the launch of the Range Rover Sport Hybrid – the world’s first hybrid luxury SUV delivering outstanding fuel economy, significantly lower CO2 emissions without compromising Land Rover’s renowned all-terrain capabilities.

What are the new trends in the GCC market? How is Jaguar Land Rover aligning with the changes in the industry?

Sustainability is a theme which is very topical within the automotive industry at the moment. Jaguar Land Rover is a world leader in the design and manufacture of aluminum-intensive vehicles, pioneering the use of closed-loop processes to drive recycled content and reduce environmental impacts across the lifecycle.  In addition, a new family of highly efficient, ultra-low emission, aluminum engine Ingenium, has been developed to power new and future Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.

The car of the future will become more capable, cleaner, more connected, more desirable and smarter. These are the five themes that are leading the research we are undertaking at Jaguar Land Rover today.

This interview has appeared in Arabic in AMEinfo’s sister publication Saneou al Hadath