Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

‘Saudi Arabia Among Our Biggest Markets,’ Says Bentley Official | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Wolfgang Duerheiner, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors presents the new Bentley Exp12 during the 87th Geneva International Motor Show. Photo: AP

London- Bentley motors company has shown a remarkable interest in the Gulf region because it includes three of its ten biggest global markets, mainly Saudi Arabia. Bentley recently opened in Dubai its largest showroom in the world. The company sells over 11.2 percent of its production in the Middle East, mostly in the Gulf region.

Robin Peel, Bentley’s head of marketing and communications-international, expected luxurious sport utility vehicle, Bentayga, to maintain it 2016 performance and to keep leading the company’s sales in 2017.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he said the Saudi Vision 2030 could potentially lead to a restructuring of regional priorities and to pave way for the emergence of a new economic model in the region.

He believed this shift would increase investments in the auto industry, especially in the sector of luxury cars, which will improve the sales of luxury brands like Bentley.

Here is the text of the interview:

*What is the importance of the Saudi market concerning Bentley’s sales and the most selling models?

-While the UAE currently leads the world in terms of sales, it forms along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar the three biggest markets in the world for Bentley. In terms of bestselling models, Bentley has almost 100 years of experience in introducing high-performance luxury automobiles that made their mark over the years. Last year, the Bentayga, the world’s fastest and most luxurious SUV, was the most selling in the region. We expect it to continue its outstanding performance as the highly desirable luxury purchase in 2017.

* Compared with the company’s global activity, how was the performance of regional markets?

– Bentley Motors delivered 11,023 cars globally in 2016, a record high up to 9 percent compared to 2015 sales. It was also the company’s fourth consecutive year during which the sales increased above 10,000 cars. Bentley delivered 1,239 cars to the Middle East in 2016, making 11.2 percent of its global production. Saudi Arabia acquired an important share of the region’s exports.

* How do you assess the possible impact of Saudi Vision 2030 on activities in the regional markets?

– As the top oil exporter of the Middle East, and the second in the world, Saudi Arabia, through the implementation of its Vision 2030, could potentially lead a recalibration of regional priorities and inspire the emergence of a new economic model in the region. By opening up on foreign investors, the diversification in the Kingdom’s economy could affect all the region’s economies. This will also motivate investments in the automotive industry, particularly in the luxury sector, encouraging greater sales in luxury brands such as Bentley Motors.

* Do you have programs to train local GCC talent at your facilities?

– Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe is home to all of its operations including design, research and development (R&D), engineering and production of all the company’s cars. It is also responsible for youths training. The company recently launched its 2017 trainee recruitment in the UK, with 60 positions available for apprentices, undergraduates and graduates, in all fields.

* How do you assess the economic situation and consumer confidence in the region in view of the volatile oil prices?

– Bentley Motors is going from strength to strength in the Middle East in 2016 opening its largest showroom in the world, a 75,000-sq. ft. retail development on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. However, we do not consider ourselves immune to the challenging conditions in the automotive sector. We have consistently worked hard to build a sustainable platform to enable long-term growth and to ensure that our customers receive the high-standard service they expect. Along with the Bentayga, we look forward to introducing future models that combine luxury and performance.

* How is Bentayga doing in the region and what is the feedback you are receiving from customers?

– Bentayga has broadened Bentley’s appeal beyond our traditional base of customers, redefining the SUV segment. It offers customers the chance to drive it in different scenarios and styles.

* How is Bentley proceeding with the future of electric and plug-in hybrid models?

– Bently is committed to taking a responsible approach to the sustainability of our production and products. We have been working to adopt new eco-friendly technologies in our cars. For example, in 2014 we launched a hybrid concept based on our flagship model, the Mulsanne, showing that hybrid technology can be applied even in cars with high luxury and performance. This was an extraordinary development in technology and I congratulate our talented group of engineers for achieving it. The first Bentley Hybrid will be launched in the first half of next year. At the recent Geneva Motor Show, Bentley unveiled a concept EXP 12 Speed 6e, which is being tested around the world to assess the feedback from potential customers.