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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Dubai - Mosaed al-Zayani

Nissan: Dynamism of Saudi, UAE Markets a Key Factor for Company’s Regional Growth

A Saudi man looks at Nissan cars during the Riyadh Motor Show on November 29, 2016. (Reuters)

Nissan’s Chairperson for the region of Africa, Middle East, India, Europe and Oceania (AMIEO) Guillaume Cartier said the vehicle market in Saudi and the United Arab Emirates will witness growth in the coming period thanks to favorable government policies that attract investments.

In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Cartier noted that Nissan was seeking to increase its market share to 20-25 percent, pointing to the company’s plans to promote electric cars in the Middle East.

Asked about Nissan’s strategy in the region, based on the global transformation plan and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Cartier stated that Nissan has been present in the Gulf for 70 years.

“We have witnessed the region boom, and we are talking about the dynamism that we can see in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and here… We have contributed to this growth,” he stressed, adding: “In addition to our well-established presence, we are proud of the loyalty we enjoy from our clients. This is a long-term progress and indicates a very stable situation.”

In this regard, Cartier said that Nissan’s strategy was to focus on the best models. “We’re taking a region-specific approach, which means that some cars like the Patrol and some SUVs have a region-specific feel.”

He continued: “In terms of color, for example, customers around the world like black more, but burgundy may be preferred here, and this is something we take into account in our research and development process. We know that people use the car in the city and on the roads, but where do they go? Also to the desert. So, we test the cars in the desert to make sure they are good enough in this particular environment.”

On whether the Middle East was ready for electric cars, Cartier pointed to the speed at which projects are implemented in the region. While he stressed that the desire was present and clear compared to other countries, he said that the shift to electric vehicles would depend on several other factors, including the presence of the appropriate infrastructure, the clients’ readiness and the situation of the market.

“The government is ready… as is the region. The necessary infrastructure is also growing and will be ready soon. The question now is the customers’ attitude and how quickly they will accept electric cars,” he continued.

He explained that customers in this part of the world travel the longest distances in their cars, with an approximate annual average of 22,000 miles.

“Europe may occupy the second place with an average of 15,000 miles, and speed is also important. So, the question here is the extent to which these cars will be accepted by the people, who often commute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The other factor is the price, and how much the customer is willing to pay, and that’s something we can’t know,” he remarked.

Cartier emphasized, on the other hand, that Nissan’s strategy for the coming phase was in line with the 2030 ambitions plans.

He noted that the company would introduce 23 new vehicles with electric steering, including 15 new electric cars by 2030, unveiling a new technology enhanced with solid batteries, which are much more efficient than the batteries currently available in the market.

As for the factors that will help Nissan increase its market share in the region, Cartier said he expected that the sales would grow in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, because these two markets were dynamic and attracted investments.

“We seek to meet transport needs and increase our market share. Indeed, we are working to meet all the needs of the client by offering a diverse range of products,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He also emphasized the excellent government policies that give the company confidence.

“We can see increased growth, and we see that we are well positioned in the market,” he noted.

Asked about the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic on the vehicle industry and the supply chain, Cartier said the situation, which could seem chaotic on the short term, would gradually improve.

“The crisis will not last forever but it will take some time,” he underlined, adding that Nissan was aiming to increase its size in the region between 20 and 25 percent.

“But we must be careful because we do not know much about the evolution of the Covid virus. It is better to be optimistic, but at the same time we must realize that we are boosting production but we cannot fully meet demand,” he stated.

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