The automotive industry in the Middle East witnessed strong sales across the board last year. Why?
There are a number of contributing factors that play a crucial role towards the growing success of the region’s automotive industry. Firstly, it helps that we are operating in a region where economies are witnessing growth. For the BMW group, this economic growth was coupled with us launching new models.
What is the priority for regional customers when it comes to buying cars –sustainability, cost or style?
The buying behaviour of customers in this region differs greatly compared to most other markets. Here in the Middle East, there is high disposable income and a desire to make a strong statement with one’s car, so customers have a preference and the means to buy top-of-the-range premium cars, and enjoy owing something that is different. As a result, our importers are receiving a lot of interest from customers wanting personalisation of vehicles.
Do you think the automotive industry will increase the manufacturing of vehicles or parts in the region?
I can only speak on behalf of the BMW Group and we always endeavour to base our business decisions on what is economically and practically viable. There are many different factors that need to be considered before such an investment is made, and currently there are no immediate plans to manufacture vehicles or parts in the Middle East region.
Where do you see the regional automotive industry headed in the near future?
We predict that the luxury vehicle category will continue to grow in the Gulf. The reason I say this is because of the economic growth in the GCC that is expected to increase between four to six per cent this year. In addition, Middle East countries are among the highest net worth households in the world, so there is disposable income to purchase luxury goods, and customers have a passion to buy into strong respected brands that offer the very best.