CEO, Porsche Middle East & Africa FZE
Managing Director, Infiniti Middle East
How does Dubai stand out as a prominent market for the car industry?
MANFRED BRAUNL Dubai is a place where one has free range to develop innovations, and people are completely open to thinking big, getting it done, and trying it out. Moreover, Dubai attracts people from around the world, bringing diverse international backgrounds and years of professional experience into one place. This melting pot of ideas results in innovative solutions and benchmark applications for the world. Dubai is a place where we can launch pilots on new mobility. We are in the early stages of discussing ideas with local companies, working toward shared mobility from a variety of different angles. There are not that many places in the world where one has freedom and support from officials. Over the last two decades, the Dubai team has expanded the partner network and volume significantly. Starting with five employees at the Dubai Airport Free Zone, today the team of 57 full-time staff supports 22 importers and 65 Porsche facilities in 21 countries.
MARKUS LEITHE This region, with Dubai at the forefront, boasts a young, tech savvy, and innovative population that is always adapting to new ways of thinking and conducting business. It is also a wealthy region where people can afford to pay for cutting-edge innovations. From that perspective, this is a region where we are able to experiment with new ideas. In the long run, this is a region that will grow as the fundamentals are already present here. It is important not to be discouraged by certain ups and downs that people need to get used to. When people here do not see a 10 or 15% increase, they panic. But if you come from other areas in the world, you know that cycles are normal. At the moment, there is a cycle where things are a little more difficult and challenging, but this does not mean that opportunities for growth are not there; if you embrace the environment and framework that you are living in, you can maximize the output in that environment.
How is the car industry evolving in the short to medium term?
MB New challenges will emerge because the car industry is changing in an unprecedented way. After gathering feedback from our importers, some say electromobility is perfect for their markets. For example, in Mauritius, an island roughly 50km wide, one can go everywhere without charging a car in public places. India, on the other hand, will remain more dependent on combustion engines over the next years. So, we look at each market and develop strategies for the short and mid-term. The crucial thing is to try predicting changes and to implement plans that allow short-notice adaptations. In the UAE, we had a 3% increase in new car deliveries in 1H2019 and are confident in a successful year overall, which is impressive given current circumstances. Successful organizations are built on good ideas and the people who execute them. The only way to be ahead is through trying new things, not only for our customers, but for our fans. People should always think of Porsche as a brand true to its heritage and design DNA; a company that is constantly releasing innovative products, like the world’s first fully electric sports car, the Taycan.
ML Implementation of AI and other new innovations in technology will enhance the experience for Infiniti’s customers. The implementation of our AI assistant, Idris, is just one of the examples of a complete paradigm shift that can be found in the retailing of any product. The shift itself is moving to the point where it is the customer who wants to define individual user experience. These are the themes coming from other industries and happening now in the automotive industry. We want to have the customer in the driving seat, choosing how to own a car, how to use a car, and where to even choose and buy a car. The retail aspect of our operations is transforming, which has many implications for showrooms, salespeople, and services.