x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Aston Martin CEO: Be honest about going green

Dr Ulrich Bez says that car manufacturers need to be transparent in their bid to be green.

Dr Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin, looked relaxed in Dubai. Despite the recession, he has proudly unveiled the Rapide, the car maker's four-door sports car, and the One-77, a limited edition supercar. "The Rapide is a new definition of a car," he says. "We are looking to sell 2,000 globally [next year], around 150 to 200 cars in the Middle East." People want sports car style with four-door practicality, says Bez.

"The One-77 will start production next year," Bez says of Aston Martin's other big Dubai launch, and he is confident that all 77 cars will be sold. "We have sold 50 of them and we have 50 other hot prospects," he says. "Fifteen out of the 50 have been sold in the Middle East. The car has to deliver the same prestige inside and outside, front and back," Bez says of the car's striking exterior and high-concept interior.

"2007 was our best year," says Bez of the year when 7,000 Aston Martins were sold worldwide. With sales around the 5,000-unit mark in 2009 and projections of 6,000-7,000 sales in 2010, the company is ambitious. However, Bez says that improved showrooms in the UAE and other Gulf nations will increase sales over the coming years. "In 2000, we sold 10 cars in the Middle East, in 2009 we sold 200, in 2010, we expect to sell 300-400 cars but we need better car dealership representation," he says.

Kuwait's Dar and Adeem Investment Company bought Aston Martin in 2007 and since then, Bez says Kuwait has outperformed other Middle Eastern markets with its "benchmark dealership." "We need proper representation in Dubai and Abu Dhabi," he says and hopes to achieve something similar to the elegantly minimalist Paris dealership near the Champs Elysee. "This would be our desire for Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we are in negotiations [for new dealerships]."

When asked about Aston Martin's plans for producing environmentally friendly cars, Bez's response is different to the usual line taken by manufacturers about low or zer-emissions cars. "I am green since I can remember," he declares, before going on to explain that his house is built from renewable materials and he doesn't let his car idle when it is stopped at traffic lights. He then told The National about the renewable materials that have been used to build the Aston Martin design studio before finally referring to the cars.

"We have the Cygnet, it has a one-litre engine, you can sit in it in style and it has the lowest fuel consumption [of all Aston Martins]," he says and scoffs at the suggestion of Aston Martin producing electric sports cars. "This is an honest solution - if you are going to go green, you have to be honest about it." glewis@thenational.ae