Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Juergen Schmitz: Saudi Market Acquires 20% of Infinity Sales in Middle East | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Shiro Nakamura (L), Chief Executive Officer for Infiniti, and Johan Nysschen, President of Infiniti, pose with the new Infinity Q50 luxury sports car at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. (Geoff Robins Geoff/Getty Images)

London – Juergen Schmitz, managing director of Infiniti Middle East stressed the importance of the Saudi market which acquires 20% of Infinity sales in the region. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Schmitz said that the Saudi Vision 2030 embraces three Saudi factors: an active community, a thriving economy, and ambitious people. He noted that the announcement made by the Saudi government served in highlighting the importance of the economic diversification for citizens and companies working in the kingdom.

Schmitz asserted that Infinity is keen on providing the region with hybrid cars and high efficiency turbine engines.

He also admitted the difficult conditions that dominated the market in 2016, but said the company hit a 6.4% growth rate. It has also introduced four new cars and launched many services and maintenance centers across the Middle East.

*What is the expected growth rate by Infinity in the Middle East during 2017? And what are the new cars which will be introduced to the market this year?

-Right now, I cannot discuss any future-related details because we are working in a dynamic market…but what I can say is that as a trademark, we work hard to overtake the market’s rates, and this is what we are currently achieving.

We believe 2017 will bring some challenges driven by the general economies status, but we trust our outstanding products and our client’s base in this region – so we can carry on with our growth. Concerning the new products, some will be revealed soon, and the first model will be the 2017 Infiniti QX60.

*How important are the region’s markets for the company, and particularly the Saudi market?

– Middle East is an important market for us. On the global level, Infinity sold more than 230,000 cars, and achieved 7% growth compared to last year, which is an exceptional production rate for us. In the Middle East, the company sold 7,700 cars, and its share in the market of luxury cars surged to 6.5%, which is the highest rate in the world.

In Saudi Arabia, 1,500 new Infinity cars were delivered to their buyers, which represents over 20% of the total sales in the Middle East.

* Does Infinity plan to increase its investment in the Saudi market after announcing the Vision 2030?

– Our goal is to manufacture outstanding products for our Middle Eastern clients. Therefore, investments in Saudi Arabia will deal separately with every project and with the customer’s benefit. What I can say now is that we have many exciting statements that will by announced within this year.

*How does Infinity plan for the alternative energy technology field? Does the company plan for an electric car in the future?

– In the meantime, our company’s efforts focus on high-efficiency hybrid engines; electric cars are not among our priorities.

*How does your distribution network develop to convoy the increasing sales?

– In 2016, we revealed the models “QX50”, “QX60”, “Q30”, and “Q50”. With the expansion of sales, we had to focus on enlarging our distribution network too. In 2016, we opened the first “Infinity Boutique” in Qatar, in addition to centers of sale and service in Fujairah and Bahrain. In Dubai, we opened our first official center for second-hand Infinity cars. We also intend to expand our work in the Middle East in line with the company sales’ volume.

*What is the company’s view concerning the production of self-driving cars?

– When people think about self-driving cars, they only think about the final stages of these vehicles and not about their intermediate stages. Currently, Infinity is at these intermediate stages. In some cars, like “Q50”, we have a system that warns from front hits and can use breaks when needed; it also comprises the “cruise system”, which automatically reduces the car speed when another car approaches, then resume its speed again. These systems can be activated or deactivated by the driver.