Arno Husselmann is smiling in the face of the global economic downturn, and with good reason. As general manager of Abu Dhabi Motors, the capital's distributors of Rolls-Royce, BMW and Mini, he is pleased to report that business is good. with first-quarter sales for 2009 exceeding the targets. A first-quarter target of 635 new cars was set for the showroom and by April, 809 new cars had been sold. "It was difficult from October to January - that was a tough few months," says Husselmann. But partly thanks to reducing prices by up to 15 per cent, the company is in good shape.
Husselmann feels Abu Dhabi Motors is emerging strongly from "an abnormal time across all industries". So confident is the company of continuing healthy sales, a three-phase expansion programme is in place. The expansion will deliver larger showrooms, staff training facilties for the entire Middle East and a theatre for events that will be designed by Theo Kalomirakis, a leading New York home theatre designer. Kalomirakis's home theatres are known for their opulence and it is expected the design he creates for Abu Dhabi Motors will be no exception.
The Rolls-Royce division of the dealership has also proven to be a critical part of Abu Dhabi Motors' success. Winning the Rolls-Royce award for Global Leader in Sales Volume 2008 was the company's crowning achievement of 2008, with the largest proportion of worldwide sales of 2,968 units. "We beat Beverly Hills, London, Beijing, Moscow. We can say we're world champions, we're very proud of that," says Husselmann.
He expects the release of the Rolls-Royce Ghost later this year to keep Rolls-Royce sales ticking over for ADM. He describes the Ghost as a "more affordable Rolls-Royce", with a starting price of Dh900,000 and boasting a V12 engine with 540hp. "People will use this car as their daily drive." The connection between Abu Dhabi and Rolls-Royce is important, says Husselmann. Just as Ferrari has a colour, Blue Abu Dhabi, that pays homage to the UAE capital, Rolls-Royce has also named colours in Abu Dhabi's honour. "We have Baniyas Blue, White and Gold as well as Yas White and Yas Blue."
As well as launching the Ghost, Husselmann says a series of new models will be rolled out over the next eight months. The motorsport-inspired X5M and X6M, the new Z4 and the John Cooper Performance Mini are available now. After summer, the 730LI, the supercharged Alpina B7 and the 760LI will be available, and in December 2009 or January 2010, the 5-Series GT, a potent four-door, goes on sale. The November 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will also be a prime promotional opportunity for Abu Dhabi Motors, with the BMW-Sauber team coming to town.
"We have a strong commitment to F1," says Husselmann. "We'll have a showroom evening in Khalidiya on October 28 three days before the race and the drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, as well as BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen, will be on hand to sign autographs. "We'll also be closing a street for half an hour for a show with an F1 car and either Kubica or Heidfeld will be driving," he says. "The whole world will be watching Abu Dhabi. It's an amazing opportunity."