Al-Futtaim Automotive's Vincent Wijnen on innovation and sustainability
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Interview: Al-Futtaim Automotive’s Vincent Wijnen talks about innovation and sustainability

Interview: Al-Futtaim Automotive’s Vincent Wijnen talks about innovation and sustainability

The senior managing director talks about the company’s presence at the Abu Dhabi Air Show, its electric vehicle portfolio and supporting UAE’s net-zero goals

Vincent Wijnen Al-Futtaim Senior MD

How has Al-Futtaim Automotive earmarked green and sustainable innovation as a key focus?
Al-Futtaim Automotive was one of the pioneers in alternate propulsion in the region when we launched hybrid electric vehicles in the UAE in 2008 with Al-Futtaim Toyota. We continue to provide several alternative powertrains such as Toyota, Lexus, Volvo and Polestar.

As an organisation driven by a customer-centric approach, we are now once again leading the way in fulfilling the rising customer demand for green mobility solutions through an exceptional range of hybrid and electric vehicles being introduced into the region, from luxury high-performance EVs to hybrid frontrunners.

For example, with Volvo, we offer the Volvo XC40 Recharge compact SUV and the C40 Recharge compact Crossover in the UAE, both of which feature fully electric powertrains. Recently, Al-Futtaim Toyota showcased its ground-breaking, environment-friendly technology with the new generation Toyota Mirai, making its UAE debut as the official car of the Japan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Powered by hydrogen, the cutting-edge fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) offers a 100 per cent electric driving experience with best-in-class efficiency and zero emissions.

Earlier this year, we announced our partnership with the Polestar — a pure, progressive, performance luxury EV brand committed to sustainability. The brand is progressing to deliver a climate neutral car by 2030 and to be a fully climate neutral company by 2040. We brought the brand to the UAE in Q1 2022 with the introduction of the Polestar 2 premium performance compact hatchback.

What did Al-Futtaim Auto showcase at Abu Dhabi Air Show?
The Abu Dhabi Air Show was an excellent opportunity to highlight our full line-up of models, services and innovations, from B2C to B2B offerings. At the same time, it was a great occasion to showcase how we are committed to developing hybrid and electric mobility solutions that not only align with the UAE’s sustainability goals but also help customers and businesses across sectors achieve their sustainability targets.

At the show, we showcased the next-generation Volvo XC90, Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX alongside many new models; and examples of future mobility in the form of the Polestar 2, Volvo C40 and Volvo 7900 Electric Bus. We also featured vehicles including the TMH electric forklift, towing tractors and Hertz shuttle cars, which are relevant to the aviation sector.

The new Volvo Electric buses, which have completed a successful six-month passenger trial in the UAE earlier this year, followed by successful trials run in selected hot climate markets of Europe and Latin America, were also on display.

Performing with zero emissions and zero noise, the Volvo electric buses offer a whole new dimension of sustainable transport and smart city solution.

The models have been tested for fast-charging for the first time in Dubai, and tested for the impact of our local terrain, temperature and higher need for air-conditioning, which means the buses will truly define a new generation of Middle Eastern mobility when they arrive in the UAE in 2023.

Tell us about your key partnerships underpinned by next-gen mobility solutions and EVs.
Earlier this year Al-Futtaim Automotive announced its partnership with Polestar, the pure, progressive, performance luxury EV brand committed to sustainability and a mission to deliver a climate neutral car by 2030.

The Polestar 2 premium performance compact hatchback arrived in March and has witnessed strong demand. Al-Futtaim Automotive now not only has one of the largest ranges of hybrid and electric vehicles, but also added the revolutionary hydrogen-powered FCEV, Toyota Mirai to its offering. We also displayed a charging station at our stand at the Abu Dhabi Air Show.

How is the company supporting the UAE’s net-zero goals?
We’re seeing significant growth in demand for EV as customers are starting to adopt and embrace the new technology. Rising fuel costs and a growing awareness of the dangers of climate change are convincing many to seek alternative modes of transport. The UAE’s infrastructure currently supports the increasing EV technology sector and is growing exponentially.

Beyond the vehicles we provide, we also offer alternative ways to drive. In November last year, we announced the launch of our new car subscription service, MOOV By Al-Futtaim, aimed at providing convenient and sustainable mobility for the growing demand from customers across the UAE. Approximately 25 per cent of the fleet on MOOV By Al-Futtaim is hybrid with 100 per cent utilisation and we have seen an increase in customer demand in hybrid vehicles.

In 2023, Al-Futtaim Automotive will launch through FAMCO, its first electric trucks and will continue to introduce new products and services throughout the year. As the world continues to devise solutions for better sustainable mobility, we, at Al-Futtaim Automotive will continue to generate new ideas and relevant initiatives, that support reductions in CO2 and particulate emissions. Stay tuned for more announcements.

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