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25 years of RAMY Automotive

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The RAMY Automotive journey has been a long and exciting one. Founded in Dubai in April 1992 by a young Lebanese entrepreneur, Farid Semaan, who was inspired to bring his passion for cars closer to the market in the UAE. RAMY is a name that can be seen around the Emirates on all the most impressively modified vehicles: as well known for its projects as its close relationship with customers. But the way that RAMY has developed and progressed over the last 25 years can only truly be explained by the founder himself. So, on the occasion of its silver anniversary, I asked Farid Semaan a few questions about his brainchild: RAMY Automotive.

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What made you want to start RAMY?
I always loved cars and motorcycles. I worked for several years in my father’s company in the field of garage equipment where I was the Workshop Manager, responsible for installing and repairing lifts and diagnostic computers. However, I always felt that I needed to be closer to cars, so I began looking for alternative opportunities. It was in 1990, that I resigned from my father’s company and worked as a freelancer, importing Jeep accessories with a meager starting budget of AED 15,000. This went on for 2 years during which time I had the chance of helping the Toyota dealership in Kuwait to restart their workshop. Through this, I generated AED 400,000 which I used to set up Ramy Trading in March 1992.

Was RAMY always a car accessory company?
I had introduced Warn winches and managed SONAX Car Care products at my father’s company when I was awarded the position of Marketing Manager. When I left to work as a freelancer, I became the sole distributor of those brands in the UAE. I added several other products to my portfolio during the period when I was independant, these eventually formed the core products of RAMY Automotive. So, yes, RAMY has always been focussed on car accessories, but has since branched into other aspects of automotive modification.

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What is it about cars that you feel so passionate about?
When you love something passionately, you end up becoming obsessed with every aspect of it. Playing with cars goes back to when I was about 5 years old. I used to play with toy cars and with time a love developed for them. Whether that be a small Corgi Toy car or a real one, you start dreaming about what you could do, the car itself never ceasing to excite you. When you are a kid, you make it fly as far as your little arms can extend until, in your teenage years when you get your license, you drive it like there is no tomorrow. You are faster than the wind, unstoppable. Despite a few accidents, sheer luck leads to experience and, eventually, wisdom. Driving becomes an extension of your powers and pleasures, which carries a sense of freedom. A never ending love story that gets stronger the more you learn: the more you crave it then the more it will deliver.

What is behind the ‘RAMY’ name?
When I decided to name the company after Ramzi and Marwan, my sons, I took the first two letters of their names and wanted to call the company ‘RaMa’. Unfortunately, it was not accepted by the authorities then, as it represented the name of a Buddhist god. So, in order to keep the spirit of my son’s names in the company’s name, I changed it to ‘Ramy’ which in Arabic means ‘The Thrower’ or ‘The Shooter’, which was eventually accepted after a little help from my father!

What are some of your fondest memories over the last 25 years?
In the 1990s, I was the very proud owner of only the third Jeep Wrangler YJ that was ever sold in the UAE: a truly beautiful machine. Everybody wanted to buy it from me and I was stopped so many times by people asking if it was for sale. On one occasion, a man was ready to give me his brand new Mercedes C300 (very famous in those days) plus cash three times the value of the car, but I loved it too much to let it go. It was a matter of pride owning such a beautiful car that was turning heads, lifting eyebrows and making people stop in the street to admire it. Similar to the way that a painter falls so deeply in love with his painting that he cannot sell it, no matter how much he is offered. It is like giving away a piece of yourself. I also look back at the way that my boys, at a very early age, fell in love with our 4×4 cars to the point they influenced what cars their friends’ fathers bought. I have so many amazing memories of the last 25 years, even if I wrote a book it wouldn’t cover it all.

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What would you say separates RAMY from competitors?
With due respect to competitors, RAMY was never started with money in mind because I was earning much more working at my father’s company. It was started, because I dreamed of doing it for the love I had for cars and everything associated with them. The best part was always when you get the chance to test the cars that we modified. That spirit stands true in the company today as many of my team are 4×4 drivers or car racers in their free time. As an offshoot to that and part of the ethos of our company, every single member of RAMY is made to remember that the instant he or she walks out of our premises, they will unavoidably become a client somewhere else. I like to remind them of the fact that they would want to be treated well as a customer, so this sympathy is reciprocated when dealing with our own clients. And, as I said earlier, RAMY was never started with profit in mind, so we see clients as friends who share the same passion and love of all things cars, rather than walking bags of money!

How do you see RAMY progressing into the future?
The automotive field is so diverse and dynamic. Diverse in the range it offers and dynamic in the developments it has undergone in such a short time. So, at RAMY, we are aiming to cater to the ever changing environment by offering clients the best experience possible. Put simply: that means we will be designing and developing parts based upon suggestions and feedback from our clients. Parts that are, far too often, neglected by big industries. We have also made it our priority to put the client first, without sacrificing quality of our products or services.

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Interviews and Reports

HATECO a One Stop Destination for all Automotive Needs

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Around the year, Arab Motor World Staff receives calls and inquiries about where to go for the best car servicing and what is needed for better car care.

Thus we have decided to shed light on the main companies in the business and highlight their history, present and future.

For this issue, we will be visiting HATECO S.A.R.L. headquarters in Tripoli for an insight about their progress in the automotive servicing industry.

History and the road to the future:

Hamad Ajaje Trading Establishment Company was founded in 1970 by Hamad Ajaje under the name of Hamad Ajaje Trading & Sons to promote tires and batteries in Tripoli, Lebanon. The venture evolved over the years to enter 2001 with its new name: HATECO S.A.R.L.

At present, the firm manages three branches and one main headquarter to efficiently serve its customers and has become one of Lebanon’s key importers and sole distributors of some of the best international brands in the fields of Tires, Batteries, Wheels, Lubricants and other automotive related products.

In addition, HATECO expanded over the years and entered 2013 with the opening of a new Workshop consisting of the latest technology and equipment to introduce new automotive services to the retail industry.

As a result, the company has built a solid reputation of reliability for its stakeholders and will always remain the most trusted name for automotive related products.

HATECO’s vision is to be the major provider of all automotive-related products in Lebanon and the MENA region.

HATECO’s mission is to bring the best automotive-related products from around the world and distribute them to the people of Lebanon and the MENA region.

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Here’s a quick look at HATECO’s main services:

  • Oil Change
  • Wheel Alignment
  • Brake Disc Services (Change or Straightening)
  • Brake Pads
  • Wheel Balancing
  • Repair Services
  • Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance
  • Steering and Suspension
  • Rim Straightening
  • Wiper Blade Services

* Use of Bosch products for oil filters, brake discs,
brake pads, and suspension parts.

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HATECO S.A.R.L. manages several brands covering all aspects of automotive servicing such as:

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In addition, HATECO S.A.R.L. has expanded from a national company covering only the Lebanese territories to a wider international network serving: Syria, Iraq, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Ghana, Gambia, Congo, Liberia.

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Interviews and Reports

Interview with the Legends of Shelby

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Carroll Hall Shelby is an undisputable legend when it comes to the automotive industry, this auto icon is the person behind the most loved roadster of all times the AC Cobra and the iconic overhauled Ford the Shelby Mustang from the 60’s till today.

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That being said it is not every day that we in the Middle East get the chance to discuss the legend’s past, present and future with the heirs to the throne.

For the occasion, Arab Motor World got the opportunity to sit down with Aaron Shelby, Caroll Shelby’s Grandson, and Gary Patterson Shelby American Inc.’s president and this is what they had to say.

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What’s Shelby’s strategy for the Middle East?

Well, we know for a fact that the Middle East is one of the major markets for Ford and we are there as well part of that strategy. In Dubai, we already have the Shelby Ford F-150 truck and also the Super snake being sold on the market and we will continue to develop our presence in the Middle East and bring in new vehicles and increase our presence in that part of the world.

So what about that beast, the Shelby Raptor. What was the idea behind it and who are your competitors?

The cool thing is that we don’t have a lot of competitors in this market place as this vehicle is designed to perform both off-road and on-road so the Shelby Raptor will perform on a phenomenal level even if you decide to venture off tarmac. We wanted to deliver something that you can drive every day, take it for a weekend cruise and visit your country club and still look phenomenal under any conditions.

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What types of roads is this vehicle made for, I mean the Middle East has desert and at the same time some countries have snow?

Well if you have seen our promotional video, you will know that this vehicle is already dune bashing with two wheels in the air and is performing superbly on those type of roads, as for snow well unlike other vehicles this machine is made for all types of roads and weather, it will perform on sand, snow, cold weather, warm weather and it can actually perform almost everywhere.

So what’s coming next for Shelby?

Ah well, during November 2017 we have revealed the Shelby 1000 which is a track upgrade for the Mustang with a 5.2L engine reaching more than 1000 Horsepower. And it is not just about the horsepower it is all about the full systems that comes in to play from suspension, aerodynamics, brakes.. when we fired this baby in our facilities it was phenomenal.

And like Caroll Shelby is known to say: “My favorite car is the next car”. So we are always in constant development and at this point this is what we can share but some secrets are still hidden in the drawer, so you have to wait and see we have more phenomenal vehicles coming in for 2018.

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Interviews and Reports

Jaguar Land Rover insights with JLR executives

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During our visit to Dubai International Motor Show this year, we have visited the Jaguar Land Rover stand and were stunned with the amount of new vehicles released for our market. For that purpose, we sat with Mr. John Edwards Managing Director, Special Operations Division from Jaguar Land Rover to explain the strategy set for the upcoming few years.

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As MD of the SVO division at JLR, what’s coming in this year and what about future projects?

As you have seen today, we have two global debuts and one regional launch. Let’s start with the main attraction the Project 8. We like to call it the crazy car, it all started after Project 7, we were thinking what’s next? Someone at the division came up with the crazy idea to put our most powerful engine into our most lightweight platform and so the Project 8 was born. It is a car designed and engineered by petrol heads for the petrol heads. Project 8 is a track car with 200 MPH as top speed but we wanted a track car more than a straight line racing car and that meant lots of upgrades on the skin as well under it…
Project 8 is an exclusive car that will be produced in 300 unites only. We also have on the stand two global premieres: the Range Rover Sport SVR with carbon fiber bonnet and the SVAutobiography Dynamic with refined luxury. Both vehicles have improved performance and are positioned as a limited edition. Our operations as SVO division have a vision to build unique and distinctive vehicles that really stand out and make a bold statement while maintaining and improving the vehicle in terms of performance and luxury. This our business: Personalization is a form of luxury.
We have also coming up the Discovery SVX which is built on an already very sophisticated vehicle and we are taking it even further.
There are at least two major launches coming soon, we are busy and we are growing and you have to wait to see what’s coming.

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To get a better insight on the JLR in our region, we also got the chance to sit down with Salman Sultan Regional PR and Social Media Manager at Jaguar Land Rover and this is what he has to say.

Where does JLR stands today on the regional level?

Well, we brought several global and regional premieres this year at the Dubai International Motor Show as mentioned earlier by John. Our region has the highest market share for SVR sales in the world specifically in GCC, the evoque in Morocco has the biggest market share among JLR brands in the middle east and number 2 is Lebanon and the Velar is sold out till June 2018, thus JLR gives high importance to our market. The E-Pace is here as regional premiere and the XF Sportbrake also which is set for the UAE and KSA as pilot markets and will be followed by XF Sportbrake R ad XF Sportbrake S. Moreover, Project 8 which is produced in limited edition is also part of the regional strategy, we have already sold 25 units in the region which is a great accomplishment and shows our region’s high interest in the SVO products.

What is JLR strategy in KSA after the royal decree allowing women to drive there?

We have been selling cars for women around the world and KSA is no different. Women in KSA have been buying cars for long time, the change now will be: do I buy a car that is Chauffeur driven or self-driven? To us at JLR we see this in two axes: the first one is the increase in sales especially that our lineup allows the change in buying mentality and the 2nd axe is to empower women to move more into the working field of the automotive industry and we are working hard with our partners to enable that option in KSA. I think this is a great opportunity not only in sales but as an improvement for the whole automotive industry.

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Interviews and Reports

FCA Executives Round Table Discussion

Article by: Phillip Saydeh

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If you have visited Dubai International Motor Show this year, you can clearly notice the increasing lineup of the FCA products especially with Alfa Romeo and Jeep.

For this occasion, we got the chance to have a roundtable discussion with executives from both brands Alfa Romeo and Jeep.

Our morning discussion started with Alfa Romeo Brand Head EMEA Ms. Roberta Zerbi, our interest in Alfa Romeo was clearly about the noticeable increase in product lineup and also the Stelvio Quadrifoglio impressive numbers.

Ms. Roberta commented: A hundred years of history contributed to the unmistakable style that has always marked the Alfa-Romeo lineup. The Giulia and Stelvio are the result of this legacy and these two models are the Gems with which Alfa-Romeo is planning to take on the competition. Following the release of the standard versions of the Giulia and the Stelvio, the Dubai Motor Show was the opportunity where the Stelvio and Giulia were presented in the Quadrifoglio version on a worldwide basis. The aim is to allow everyday drivers and any person behind the wheel to have the opportunity to experience the pleasure of the Quadrifoglio legacy in racing all without losing the sense of safety and the ability to be in control.

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As for the Alfa Romeo move forward strategy, commercial schemes are being built to ensure that a good experience is delivered to customers when buying the car; One of the key features in providing a good experience for prospect buyers is to offer an opportunity for a test drive. The brand’s mantra is to allow as many people to drive the car as possible, primarily through the network of distributors and also through on track events to allow prospect clients to get a grasp of the true feeling of the sporty nature of the car. The plan for Alfa Romeo rebirth is confirmed and goes through a number of new launches and initiatives, and an array of new additions to the lineup and new technologies.

After this morning brief on Alfa Romeo, we step into the world of Jeep with Mr. Dante Zilli Brand head of EMEA.

Jeep has been going through lots of changes and lots of new entries out of which was on display at Dubai Motor Show: The New Jeep Compass and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk among others, and this is where the discussion was heading.

Dante commented that Jeep, over the past few years, is growing in lineup and in numbers. The new additions of Renegade a few years back and now the Compass is setting the direction where Jeep is going worldwide and in the region. Despite the fact that the market is going down, Jeep sales have increased by 19% in the last year and we are expecting more in 2018 with the All-New Compass.

We have revamped some products and introduced new products and will continue to do so to complete the Jeep lineup.  To start with the Compass, it is a completely new car compared to the previous generation, the Compass has the Jeep spirit and design combined with its off-roading capabilities, new technology, comfort and most of all the Compass is a no compromise car that is pretty much above all competitors from the same segment. On top of the Compass, the Trackhawk is something to talk about so if you are looking for performance in the SUV segment The Trackhawk is there to satisfy the need. The Trackhawk is actually on display at the Dubai Motor Show first time outside the US as we believe these two newly introduced vehicles will have a great impact on Jeep’s regional and worldwide sales figures for 2018.

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As for the New Wrangler JL, Dante Commented when asked: you will see it at the LA Auto Show in the upcoming weeks, it was a challenge to replace the Icon of the brand but you will be surprised, also we are working on several new future releases that will complete the Jeep lineup as mentioned so stay tuned.

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Interviews and Reports

Meet Camaro Club President Pierre Nercessian

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Out of Arab Motor World’s Appreciation for the Auto Clubs which are transforming the Auto scene into a safe environment and their dedication to CSR activities, we sat down with Pierre Nercessian Camaro Club President for an interview up-close and personal.

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Pierre Nercessian; president Camaro club Lebanon for 4 years now, what can you tell us about the startup phase and the launching of Camaro Club in Lebanon?

It all happened after I bought my 2010 Camaro from Impex, Chevrolet dealer in Lebanon, and started asking around to start up a club with the dealership. After 6 months, I teamed up with my best friend Vladimir yeghiazarian (also a Camaro owner) and started a Facebook group for Camaros called Camaro 5 club Lebanon. A few months later, the group had around 30 members and I just received a call from Impex to join forces thus created an official Camaro Club with me as a president and Vladimir as vice president. After going through all the official papers and transforming Camaro 5 Club into the Official Camaro Club, we now count more than 350 club members.

What are the objectives and were the achievements of the Camaro Club during those 4 years?

Our objectives are simple:

– Promoting and sharing our passion for Chevrolet Camaro by organizing events and rides visiting all the Lebanese territories
– Creating awareness on safe and responsible driving
– Getting involved in CSR activities
– Having fun whenever we can

As for our achievements:
– We successfully organized rides all over Lebanon from north, south, Beirut, Mount Lebanon and Beqaa
– We have done all sorts of events such as speed tests, car shows, charity funding, movie nights and dinners
– We managed to grab international attention from GCC as we have participated in several events there and the US with constant collaboration with international clubs and competitions.

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What was the role of the president in those achievements and fulfilling those objectives and who was there to support you?

The president and vice president supervise, plan, and discuss the yearly pipelines of the club. The board team plans the yearly pipelines and supervises the executions and most importantly the road team, that consists of road captains who plan, scout and execute all the rides and logistics to keep all our members safe from any incidents.

What’s coming next for the Camaro Club in the coming years?

Our future plans include monthly rides, events, speed tests, drift events, movie nights, Christmas dinner and charity fundraising events and some very special surprises that will be announced in the near future.

Anything you would like to add?

Special thanks to Arab tuning magazine for covering all our events and rides and supporting our club and giving us the chance to spread the origins and identity of our club.

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Interviews and Reports

Safety at the limit, Tyres for Performance-Tuned Cars

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Continental, the German premium automotive supplier and manufacturer, has established itself as a leading developer of bespoke tires for performance-modified vehicles from renowned manufacturers and brand tuners in the Middle East and around the world. In a region where individual modification of cars is steadily growing, ultra-ultra high performance (U-UHP) Continental tires can be relied upon to maintain optimum performance levels at speeds of 360 km/h and above.

After its €45 million investment in the high-performance technology sector, Continental is set to produce around 350,000 U-UHP tyres annually for the tuning market.

Among the elite specialists who fit their modified cars with Continental tyres are Abt, AC Schnitzer, Arden, Brabus, Heico, Lorinser, edo competition and TechArt, to name just a few.

Henry Siemons, Head of the Tuning department at Continental, reports on how new technologies are driven forward in the high-speed sector, how innovations are put to work and how development work for prominent specialist tuners benefits Continental’s own brand.

Henry Siemons, why is there such a strong focus on the topic of U-UHP at Continental?
Henry Siemons: In regions where the automobile market is still growing, the proportion of modern vehicles that demand more from their tires is also larger. Then there’s the growth that we ourselves are fostering. We don’t just observe and follow trends, we actively drive them forward as well. In this respect, we work closely with the tuning firms who we regard as specialist manufacturers. The extremely high standards in this market demand technological developments that will in future find their way into the volume market as well. This way, we have already harnessed these technologies before the volume markets start to demand them.

Which tuners and OEMs choose to rely on Continental’s expertise?
Henry Siemons: I think we’re unique here in that almost all the renowned tuning firms are regular customers. They’re almost all single-marque tuners who have been specialising for years in cars from a single manufacturer and have built a reputation to match, as we have too. We work with these high-end tuning firms on an equal footing.

In general, what kind of volumes of U-UHP tires do you manufacture?
Henry Siemons: In our highly-specialised area we’re talking about very different numbers from the OEM sector, for example. We engage in image-building projects through which we aim to show that we’re leading the field in the U-UHP segment, even if only 100 or so of a particular tire are ever built. An initial production volume of 500 units doesn’t sound too large, but you have to consider the price level we’re talking about here and the fact that these tires will only be destined for a single model in a single market. And then there’s the prospect that this product will find its way into standard production.

So, developing U-UHP tires can also be a means of opening up and cornering new markets?
Henry Siemons: We always aim to be among the leaders in the tuning sector, to tell the world: we’re here; this patch is already reserved. And when a new model, from Brabus, for example, makes its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show, we aim to be present on the car with a technology-leading tire. This is a real image-building factor and gives our reputation a further boost.

But surely Continental’s reputation for U-UHP tires doesn’t depend entirely on image transfer from performance-tuned cars?
Henry Siemons: Along with the major auto shows, tuning fairs are also significant events for us. Our discussions with visitors to our booth confirm time and again that tires figure high on the agenda for many sporty drivers. They’re not just wear parts but hi-tech products without which safe dynamic driving would be impossible.

What are the key characteristics that a U-UHP tire must deliver for such high-powered cars?
Henry Siemons: Requirements in the tuning sector go well beyond what we need to deliver for the replacement business. Here, it’s all about attaining the perfect balance between very high speeds, dynamic handling and the weight of the vehicle, while always making absolutely sure that the car retains its unique character.

Which Continental plants are in a position to manufacture U-UHP tires?
Henry Siemons: With the new HPTC, our High Performance Technology Center in Korbach, Germany, we’ve now got a plant that can produce short runs of tires – a kind of specialist tire production shop for very special applications that we can experiment with in the high-tech segment. Like when we’re dealing with new material compounds or constructions. We then try to transfer the knowledge that we acquire here to other production sites, as well.

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Bosch, the Future of Mobility

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Let’s imagine living in a utopia of the automotive industry, where the air is cleaner due to less emissions, where time is valuable and wasted time in traffic jams is reduced to a minimum, where you are always connected with your family and friends and everything you need to get by is at a click of a button.

Well, imagine no more. We’ve heard that Bosch is working towards these goals, taking into consideration that Middle East countries are introducing increasingly stringent traffic safety measures, and the UAE is working on introducing driverless vehicles on the roads by 2030.

Nowadays, the Internet and Cloud services are taking over every detail of our lives and they are seamlessly being integrated into everything that we do; so why not the automotive sector? Bosch is currently developing connectivity within the automotive sector and shaping what the future of mobility will look like. Self-driven cars, 100% connectivity from within your vehicle, and most importantly, reduced emissions and reduced traffic time. That is what’s coming next from Bosch.

How will all of that get done? Well, we went to Robert Bosch Middle East offices in Dubai to investigate further, and for that occasion we met with Mr. Volker Bischoff – General Manager/Vice President, Robert Bosch Middle East and sat down for a mind blowing discussion on the future of mobility.

Here’s what we have learned so far about Bosch:

  • Bosch has 55,800 associates working in R&D
  • 6.4 billion euros in 2015 on R&D expenditure (roughly 9% of sales)
  • 2,500 Bosch engineers are working on automated driving/parking
  • Bosch engineers invest at least 5,000 hours in the development of a new parking function
  • Parking and maneuvering accidents make up 40 percent of all car accidents where there is material damage

As a business owner who has to drive to meet clients, and I have been doing so for the past 20 years, I can truly say that driving to your destination is something and arriving is something else. I mean, when you have a perfectly running vehicle, you can drive to reach your destination easily; however, finding the parking spot is the hard part. Who among us doesn’t wish for an automated valet parking service that can just take your car away when you arrive, park it by itself and call it back when you are done, and don’t get me started on parking dings and scratches. On another note, did you know that 30% of traffic jams are caused by drivers circulating to find a parking spot?

Taking all of the above into consideration, Mr. Bischoff explained that Bosch engineers are developing a wide range of products and solutions that enable automated and connected mobility. These include several driver assistance innovations that make life safer, easier, and more comfortable for drivers, such as active parking lot management, automated valet parking, park assist, active gas pedal, and maneuver emergency braking, among others.
All of that is great but we wanted to know more, how it works? What’s coming soon? How can my car park itself and most importantly Why Bosch?

Why Bosh?

When it comes to developing and introducing services for the connected world, Bosch’s broad business portfolio from households, aftermarket parts, energy, mobility…offers a particular advantage, as does its competence in software and sensors. Bosch can connect many things across a wide range of domains as no other company can – cars with houses, even entire cities. “Nearly 40% of all Bosch product classes are web-enabled”, Mr. Bischoff explained, adding, “Did you know that most mobile phones nowadays have Bosch parts in them?” We also learned that over the next few years, Bosch plans to launch a host of parking assistance systems. These systems help drivers park accident-free, or even completely guide them into a space at the touch of a button. It is mainly based on ultrasonic sensors, which Bosch has been making since 1993.

So what is coming next for automated parking?

For Bosch, automated parking begins in the vehicle – but it goes much further than that. Bosch offers two solutions:

  • For parking lots: Bosch deploys special occupancy sensors in parking lots or garages that detect and report empty spaces.
  • For curbside parking: Bosch uses the sensors that are becoming standard in an increasing number of vehicles and employs them in the search for curbside parking.

So what can you tell us about the future of parking lots?

“Parking as we know it today won’t exist in the future. Even before the end of this decade, cars will drive themselves to a space in a parking garage. Drivers will simply leave their car in a handover zone outside a parking garage and instruct it by smartphone to search for a parking space. When ready to leave, they call the car back to the drop-off point in the same way. This will be soon available for car owners through the Automated valet parking Function. This Bosch function will not only relieve drivers of having to search for a parking space, but also enables the vehicle to park itself. Fully automated parking will require several things, including an intelligent parking garage infrastructure, on-board vehicle sensors, and connectivity for both.”

And what about the Curbside Parking where there’s no pavement sensors?

“With community-based parking program, we are turning cars into sensors and making cities smarter. Bosch takes the ultrasonic sensors in parking sensors and programs them to detect curbside parking spaces. Cars can then identify curbside spaces between parked cars as they drive past. The information is sent to the respective cloud based system using Bosch’s connectivity control unit (CCU), and then forwarded in anonymized form to the Bosch IoT Cloud (BIC). Using an intelligent process, Bosch pools the data from all vehicles to generate a digital parking map and shares it with all vehicles connected to the server. The system informs the driver about the vacant spots according to the vehicle size and guide him consequently. Bosch expects that by 2020, all newly registered vehicles in markets will be connected in this way.”

One more problem remains unsolved; how can we get rid of dings and scratches resulting from parking maneuvering?

“Well, Bosch can support in this as well, maneuvering a car into a parking space is truly an art. Bosch is offering functions that can help maneuvering your vehicle into the parking space. The smart trailer parking system offers a convenient way for drivers to control their vehicle from the curbside using a smartphone. It is based on electric power steering, the ESP, the electronic gas pedal, and a trailer hitch featuring a trailer angle sensor. Drivers can select steering angle and vehicle speed with an app. As for the Remote Park Assist, vehicles park themselves as if by magic. All drivers need to do is press and hold a button on their ignition key or smartphone. This tells the vehicle to automatically maneuver itself into the parking space it has previously detected and measured using ultrasonic sensors.”

Finally, Mr. Bischoff, wealth of information, left us wondering about the future of mobility and what a utopia of the automotive world would look like in the near future. The future is vast and technology is in constant progress. We can’t wait for 2020 and beyond to see Bosch’s systems in implementation. I personally will be cutting down at least 30% of my time, 30% of my emissions, and most importantly, I won’t have to deal with anymore parking stress.

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Mazda’s Future Philosophy With Mr. Ryuichi Umeshita

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While being present at the Mazda CX-9 Lebanon launch event, we took advantage of this opportunity and sat down for a chit chat with Mr. Ryuichi Umeshita (Mazda Corporation’s General Manager Customer Service Division) to get a better insight on Mazda’s unique and future Philosophy and this is what he had to say.

Despite being a small market in term of volume, premium brands use Lebanon as a premium location for their marketing activities addressing the Arab World; As a manufacturer do you take that into account when doing your marketing approach?

Well, Yes. I can talk about Lebanon from two different perspectives: Marketing perspective taking into consideration that Lebanon is not one of the biggest markets however lots of Lebanese live outside Lebanon and have demonstrated over the years their attachment to their homeland and are influenced by its culture, these Lebanese occupy high positions in their country of residence and reflect the Lebanese lifestyle of high living standards thus by saying so we see Lebanon as an influential market to spread the news to the Arab World. On another perspective, we look at ANB as a strategic partner and ANB holds one of the best Customer Service practices in the world among Mazda dealers and is completely aligned with our Brand Management Strategy.

All major companies in the word are talking about Autonomous driving, how do you see this innovation and does it contradict with Mazda’s moto “Celebrate Driving / Fun2Drive”?

If you consider the car as a transportation medium to go from point A to point B then yes Autonomous driving is more convenient and easier to implement however we do not define a vehicle to be just a transportation method. Mazda sees that self-motivated and happy drivers is the Mazda Vision. In this regard, I can truly say yes we are developing Self-driven vehicles and technologies from a different approach. I mean the driver has to always be in control and enjoy the journey onboard of the Mazda however the computer may interfere at any given moment if any anomalies are detected within the driver’s health or in the event of an inevitable accident.

What changes will we see in the future in the Mazda line up? Are there any sports cars coming out “the RX vision”?

As already mentioned Mazda is a very emotional brand and we already have MX-5 which is our #1 sports car, however We have already showed the RX vision in Tokyo motor show which is a dream to us and to Sports Car fans so I can say that we are constantly developing the RX and if the time comes and we want to introduce that car in the market we will be fully ready to surprise.

Mazda is the only manufacturer that is not part of a global alliance. What can you explain about this strategy?

Mazda have decided that it will not be playing the same game as the other players in the market, we won’t be chasing volume sales. Mazda has a unique strategy to develop unique designs, unique products and unique technologies and we believe we can grow exponentially on our own.

What is Mazda’s future vision for Hybrid and Electric vehicles?

We currently have one of the most efficient and reliable engines with the SkyActive Technology implemented in our engines, we are keen that in the future some countries’ regulations will require the use of electric Motors so we are preparing for it however we will always be going for that Vroom Vroom car. So for the time being we will be sticking to gasoline and diesel engines as much as possible, we know that many companies will go down the electric path but we want the customer to say if I want a petrol engine I will go to Mazda.

On another note, our philosophy is different when it comes to emissions and efficiency, many people approach it from the concept of Tank to Wheels, we go for the Well to Wheel concept. Think about this in order to produce electricity there’s a lot of fuel used to produce the needed charge for worldwide electric cars. Thus we will continue with the petrol engines and improve it as much as possible for higher efficiency and lower emissions.

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Interviews and Reports

ACDelco 100 Years Anniversary

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This year marks a very special year for ACDelco worldwide, it is the 100 years Anniversary celebration for this top notch automotive brand that serves all your need when it comes to car parts, oil and lubricants, batteries and everything else needed for your car maintenance.

For this special occasion we have decided to sit down for a special interview with a special person that contributed a lot to the success of General Motors and ACDelco in the region: Mr. Mohammed Al Fayyad, Director – Customer Care and Aftersales, General Motors Middle East.

If we want to summarize the past 100 years for ACDelco success and expansion, what would be the best words to describe it?

The first words that come to mind are quality and trust. Aside from the insights we have gained over the last 100 years, the thing that makes ACDelco stand out is its dedication to delivering high quality, durable, reliable products that deliver on what they promise. This trust cannot be bought, but earned over years and years of customers coming back to a brand that they know won’t let them down.

ACDelco is best known for servicing American General Motors’ vehicles only, can you elaborate more on this topic?

The beauty of ACDelco is that it is absolutely not only for American or General Motors vehicles. We have 90,000 part numbers across 37 categories, many of which fit not only GM vehicles but many other brands from around the world. For example, no matter what brand of car you drive, in almost any case, there are ACDelco batteries, fluids and oils and accessories in our ‘ACDelco Professional Series’ that will suit your vehicle.

What type of products does ACDelco supply for the Middle East Region?

The ACDelco range is extensive, supplying everything you need to keep your car running. These include, but are certainly not limited to, engine oils, fluids, batteries, wipers, window tint film, shock absorbers, engine and chassis parts and brakes. Our customers have access to our full ACDelco range of which there are over 90,000 different part numbers across 37 categories of products.

If we want to talk about the most sold Maintenance Free batteries in the region, how can we describe the market share growth over the past decade for ACDelco Maintenance Free Batteries?

We have experienced steady growth in market share for our batteries over the last decade. In 2005 our share of the Middle East battery market was 33%, last year we posted 40%.

What does it mean to have ‘stamp grid’ technology in batteries manufacturing?

Our latest ACDelco maintenance-free batteries utilize stamp grid technology, which make them more durable in the tough climates seen in the Middle East. The plates housed within the battery casing, (which the current flows though) are manufactured using a continuous punching process, unlike other methods such as casted grid plates, (where molten lead is poured into a mold) or expanded grid, (where lead is perforated then stretched out to create a plate).

Unlike other methods, the grid within the plates is a non-uniform design with a solid frame around the edge. This minimizes corrosion and optimizes current flow for consistent power. The structure is a lot stronger and more durable than other manufacturing methods that may fail even before 50,000km. This is not an issue with the stamp grid batteries.

When it comes to boosting ACDelco in the region, what role did you and your team play in this regard?

My history with ACDelco goes back almost a decade. A couple of years before I was the Director of Customer Care and Aftersales, I spent three years as the Sales and Marketing Manager for ACDelco batteries, working closely with our customers and manufacturing partners at the Middle East Battery Company which is based in Dammam. Over this time, we have seen the brand continue to grow, our presence expand and the demand for our products strengthen. I put this down to the power of the brand and its reputation for quality and durability, but also our focus on our customers. A few years ago, we changed our parent department’s name from ‘Aftersales’ to ‘Customer Care and Aftersales’. It really highlighted the focus that we put on providing not only quality products but also a quality customer experience. As far as I’m concerned, putting your customers at the center of what you do is key for maintaining and growing your business.

Being an ACDelco dealer since 1978, Kamal Hibri & co. recently acquired ACDelco Maintenance Free batteries in Lebanon, what added value will this agreement bring for both parties and how will it affect the ACDelco Batteries market share in Lebanon?

It is fantastic that we have a strong distributor that will help to ensure our maintenance free batteries and quality customer service are accessible for customers in Lebanon. We believe that Kamal Hibri & Co., along with our extensive network of ACDelco distributors in the region, will continue to grow the ACDelco brand and its reputation for quality even further in the region.

After this interesting chat with Mr. Mohammed Al Fayyad, we head down to Beirut and in specific to Kamal Hibri & Co. to celebrate with the team not just the 100 years of ACDelco but also their recent acquisition of Maintenance Free Batteries agreement in Lebanon and for this occasion we sat down with Issam Hibri COO of Kamal Hibri & Co. for a quick chat.

Kamal Hibri & Co. started business in 1948 and acquired ACDelco brand in 1978 thus taking part in around 40 years in ACDelco History, what can you tell us about that?

Well, it all started in 1948 with the establishment of Kamal Hibri & Co. and grew rapidly in the Lebanese market to lead eventually at acquiring in 1978 the ACDelco brand. We are proud to be one of the contributors to the success of this brand in Lebanon and in the region as well, our hard work proved to be a key in the success of ACDelco in Lebanon and that was proven many times through the various awards acquired by Kamal Hibri & Co. throughout the years and recently we have been awarded for 3 consecutive years the award of “Wholesale development program award”.

Kamal Hibri & Co. recently acquired the ACDelco Maintenance Free Batteries in Lebanon and we know that this battery have a great advantage of other brands in many different ways, how will this contribute to the continuous success of Kamal Hibri & Co. with the ACDelco brand?

As COO of Kamal Hibri & Co. I can proudly say that the strategy we have been implementing in sales and customer care in Lebanon have contributed heavily in the brand success, we are the sole distributors of ACDelco parts, Oil and Lubricants and many other items in Lebanon and this have allowed us to acquire a huge network of distributors covering the Lebanese territory. Now with the acquisition of the Maintenance Free Batteries, our batteries division armed with the right tools, network and management will make benefit of this amazing product and increase our market share in the batteries’ field and we opt at exceeding our expectations this year in terms of ACDelco sales in general and the new ACDelco Maintenance Free Batteries in particular.

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