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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

GM plans to boost sales in region as it launches Chevrolet EV

Egypt was the best performing market with 35.6 per cent sales growth during the second quarter of 2018

“We have two dealer partners in Saudi Arabia and they are doing a great job for us,” said Mr Roth. Pawan Singh / The National 
“We have two dealer partners in Saudi Arabia and they are doing a great job for us,” said Mr Roth. Pawan Singh / The National 

General Motors, the car-maker behind brands such as Cadillac, expects to boost sales in the Middle East and Africa with the help of the launch of its Chevrolet electric vehicle and the lifting of the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia.

“We are building on our existing momentum in the market as we see good appetite for future growth,” John Roth, president and managing director of GM Africa and Middle East, who assumed his role in June this year, said on Monday. “Currently, we are in touch with our dealer partners and also government officials to expand our overall footprint while exploring new sales opportunities in this region.”

Last month, General Motors sold its first Bolt EV, Chevrolet’s first electric vehicle, in the region as automakers vie to sell more of such cars. Tesla cars are already used by Dubai taxis as the emirate moves closer to its goal of converting 25 per cent of total journeys into driverless journeys by 2030.

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, women were allowed to drive in the kingdom in June, a move that is expected to create a uptick in car sales.

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“We have two dealer partners in Saudi Arabia and they are doing a great job for us,” said Mr Roth. “More specifically, as the market opens up, you start seeing female consumers from the driving point of view. We also see good opportunities in expanding our digital landscape there.”

The lifting of the ban on women drivers — part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 to modernise the country — is also expected to boost women's employment and add $90 billion (Dh330bn) to economic output by 2030, according to a Bloomberg estimate

The three largest markets for GM in this region remain Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.

“Our full size SUVs - Tahoe, Yukon and Suburban - are enjoying double digit market growth in Saudi Arabia during this financial year,” said Mr Roth.

For GM, Egypt was the best performing market in the second quarter of this year. Egypt recorded 35.6 per cent gain in sales, when compared with the same quarter last year, while the North African market sales grew by 29.4 per cent during the same period. Mr Roth declined to give sales figures for other individual countries or for the region as a whole. Chevrolet remains one of the best performing brands in this region, with an uptick in sales by up to 1.5 per cent in the last quarter. GM, which recorded a net profit of $1.1 billion worldwide for the first quarter of 2018, is planning to make new investments in the GCC.

“This investment comes with a broader vision around the overall business, while keeping long-term targets in mind,” stated Mr Roth, who declined to share investment figures, adding, “We are making investments in the right technology to meet consumers’ needs.”

General Motors, which had announced in June plans to deliver 10 new electric vehicle models in China by 2020, is facing issues with its Chinese-made batteries as they did not meet GM's performance and safety standards during testing. Mr Roth affirmed that the company follows global engineering standards.