SAUDI ARABIA is a key market for Porsche cars and has a high potential for continued growth due to its population and economic development, Christer Eckberg, managing director of Porsche Middle East and Africa confirms in an exclusive interview with Arab News.
He also says that the company continues to invest in enhancing customer services in the region and has three state-of-the-art Porsche Centers in Saudi Arabia: Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar; featuring more than 50 work bays.
Eckberg feels excited that the Gulf Standardization Organization is working on plans to bring petrol and diesel qualities to international standards within the next 3-5 years.
This would enable car companies to apply the latest Euro 6 clean standard of emission.
In 2014, the company will be introducing many new models in the region.
Last year, the Cayenne continued to be the best-selling Porsche model in the Saudi market.
These are highlights of the interview with Christer Eckberg:
How important is the Saudi market for Porsche in the region?
Saudi Arabia is currently ranked as the fourth best-performing country for Porsche in the Middle East in terms of sales volume, with 952 vehicles delivered to customers in 2013. It is one of our key markets in the region and has high potential for continued growth, due to its population and economic development.
Please outline the company efforts in the Saudi market including investment in the capacity for service and maintenance of Porsche cars
Porsche Service represents the brand’s legacy of providing unparalleled experience and high levels of customer satisfaction, offered through our Porsche Center network across the region.
Under the guidance of Porsche Saudi Arabia, a division of Volkswagen Group Saudi Arabia (the National Sales Company), SAMACO — our dealer in the Kingdom — provides After Sales services for Porsche vehicles through a dedicated team of Porsche-trained technicians. Like all of our Porsche dealers, SAMACO has the complete set of specialized Porsche tools and latest diagnostic equipment and technology for accurate repair and maintenance, using only Genuine Porsche Parts.
As a regional office, and in cooperation and coordination with Volkswagen Group Saudi Arabia, we continue to invest in enhancing the customer service experience through providing professional training programs to employees of Porsche Centers.
There are currently three state-of-the-art Porsche Centers in Saudi Arabia: Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar; featuring more than 50 work bays.
What are the most relevant models in the Saudi market in terms of sales volumes?
Saudi Arabia represents one of the key markets for the SUV segment in the region.
Last year, the Porsche Cayenne continued to be the brand’s bestselling model in the Kingdom.
With 637 vehicles sold in 2013, the model accounted for more than 65 percent of our total new car deliveries in Saudi Arabia, followed by our four-door Gran Turismo Panamera with almost 16 percent. Central to Porsche’s sales performance in Saudi Arabia last year was the increased demand in our two-door sports car range with 157 new cars delivered, marking more than 60 percent increase compared to 2012.
Are there any plans for local projects (part assembly or other manufacturing of parts) in Saudi Arabia?
Porsche stands for ‘Made in Germany’. As a manufacturer of premium sports cars with almost unlimited individualization options, Porsche relies on the high-quality work associated with its German heritage which is a key part of our unique brand offering.
In fact, the company has recently invested around half a billion euros in the Porsche plant in Leipzig, which has been expanded to meet demand for the production of the new Macan.
Do you expect any change in fuel quality in the region that would allow Porsche cars to run on higher than Euro 4 standard?
The essence of Porsche thinking is gaining maximum output from minimum input. High efficiency coupled with outstanding performance is what characterizes our cars. We always strive to get the best results from our technologies, which we believe could be enhanced in our region by an improved fuel quality.
We understand that the GSO (Gulf Standardization Organization) is working on plans to bring petrol and diesel qualities to international standards within the next 3-5 years and we are very excited about this development.
What are Porsche plans for the region in 2014?
We focus our efforts on a healthy sales growth through continuous improvement of our services and premises across the region. This includes regular training for our employees, as well as facilities updates and entirely new developments.
Following the brand’s announcements for regional expansion projects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman, Porsche Center Bahrain has recently reopened its showroom, which has been increased in size by almost 60 percent, featuring the country’s first mezzanine floor in a car dealership.
In India, we have inaugurated the new state-of-the-art Porsche Center Gurgaon, boosting the brand’s strategy of offering our customers an uncompromising Porsche experience.
What are the new models in the pipeline this year?
Our product offensive will continue in 2014 with the arrival of the new convertible versions of the 911 Turbo and Turbo S, in addition to the 911 Targa range and the plug-in hybrid super sports car, the 918 Spyder.
Leading the field will be the Porsche’s first offering in the compact SUV segment, the new Macan, which will attract a new group of customers across the region.
Our flagship luxury SUV range will be extended with the new Cayenne Platinum Edition, which arrived in the region last month.
Boasting many of the most requested customization options as standard, the new model takes the athletic SUV into a new realm of sports comfort.
For the first time ever, an Executive version of the fastest and most powerful and luxurious Panamera Turbo S will also be available in the first quarter of the year.
With a 15 centimeter wheelbase extension, the model offers significantly more space and comfort particularly in the rear passenger compartment.
With more additions yet to be announced, the new model range is set to power Porsche’s regional ambitions forward in 2014, ensuring the legacy of the brand is driven further into the future.