Five minutes with Vincent Wijnen, senior managing director at Al-Futtaim Automotive
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Five minutes with Vincent Wijnen, senior managing director at Al-Futtaim Automotive

Five minutes with Vincent Wijnen, senior managing director at Al-Futtaim Automotive

Al-Futtaim Automotive reportedly has around a 40 per cent market share in the UAE

Vincent Wijnen, Senior Managing Director of Al-Futtaim Automotive officially opens Al-Futtaim Automall in DIP

Give us a business overview of the scope of operations of Al-Futtaim Automotive.
Al-Futtaim Automotive is a family-owned business, committed to the success of the UAE, has been and will continue to be a pioneering force in making mobility sustainable.

In terms of our performance, if we look back at the last ten months, overall, the market is up 18 per cent over 2020, but the market is still down 11 per cent compared to 2019, which is the last robust benchmark pre-Covid. Despite headwinds, as a result of global supply constraints from semiconductors to Covid shutdowns, Al-Futtaim Automotive is showing strong results in all business areas, including cars, bikes, commercial vehicles and industrial equipment.

Accelerated by our retail and SME sales of new and pre-owned cars sales, our market share is currently close to 40 per cent. This result has been supported by key launches across the year as we continue to deliver iconic flagships such as the introduction of the all-new generation of the iconic Toyota Land Cruiser. The launch of our second Automall, the largest pre-owned car showroom in the UAE in DIP, is another step in our mission to provide innovative mobility solutions and services.

We were the first to launch hybrid electric vehicles in the UAE back in 2008 with Al-Futtaim Toyota and Lexus. Al-Futtaim will introduce battery electric vehicles from the beginning of next year across a number of brands.

What are some of the highlights of the new Automall facility in DIP?
Automall is the number one used car retailer in the UAE with forecast sales this year of almost 10,000 vehicles.

The second branch in the emirate of Dubai, Al-Futtaim Automall DIP is a one-stop shop for those who are looking to buy and sell quality pre-owned cars, or trade in their own, from all brands and manufacturers. With 1,200 cars in stock, customers will find over 30 brands available including Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford, Honda and many others. On display at the new showroom are different models and makes, including SUVs, budget vehicles and cars of all sizes. Al-Futtaim Automall DIP will offer customers the best market pricing, as well as a 20,000 km warranty and seven-day money back guarantee. Trained technicians carry out a 99-point service check on every vehicle, with cars coming with a 12-month warranty.

The used car market is very strong. Research conducted by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan has found that affordability and simplified digital transactions were among the most important draws for UAE consumers to the pre-owned car market. The booming industry is anticipated to experience a double-digit growth rate over the next five years; from a market size of $14.2bn in 2020, it is expected to reach $18.2bn by 2025. We anticipate solid growth for the pre-owned car market in the Middle East and North Africa over the next five years and data has shown that the market will register a CAGR of 6 per cent until 2026.

What are some of the new practices you’ve introduced into the business since the start of the pandemic? 
If we look at the changes in the market from a customer perspective, the way of buying, owning and interacting with car brands is changing and this change has been accelerated due to Covid. Digitisation and the need for a “seamless” experience as a customer between the on- and offline world is becoming a prerequisite for our industry in all areas, sales of new and pre-owned, service and additional products. All our websites are being converted into a best-in-class platform in terms of functionality including an end-to-end e-commerce function, “6 steps to buy”. This will also be the case for Automall. The digital experience will also be progressively integrated into our dealerships providing a true omni channel experience.

From an ownership model point of view, Al-Futtaim offers customers various options: you can buy, finance, lease, GFV, rent. We are very excited to announce that are adding a new way of managing your mobility, we have launched our 100 per cent online subscription platform at the beginning of November. Moov by Al-Futtaim will enable customers to choose their vehicle and as with your mobile phone or Netflix pay a monthly all-inclusive subscription and all this 100 per cent online. These are only some of the innovations we will bring to the market. In the near future we will announce more initiatives.

What are some of the key auto trends that will shape the car industry in the UAE and the Middle East over the next 3-5 years?
We’re seeing significant growth in demand for hybrid technology and the smaller compact SUVs are starting to pick up as consumers are starting to adopt and embrace the new technology. Hybrid is the most desirable for individuals who appreciate top technology and want to integrate a more eco-conscious driving practice in their lifestyle. It is also a great proposition for companies with high mileage vehicles which are looking to save money on fuel. I believe that the demand for hybrid vehicles will continue to grow in the years to come as current owners are expected to upgrade to newer hybrid models while more and more people will realise the benefits of hybrid mobility.

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