Automotive news

Harley-Davidson® and Jeep® renew their partnership for 2018

Jeep Harley

Harley-Davidson® and Jeep® have renewed and strengthened their European partnership for the fifth consecutive year. Under the arrangement, the Jeep brand will remain a key partner and official sponsor of major Harley-Davidson events and rallies throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Brands don’t come much more iconic than either Harley-Davidson or Jeep. Each boasts a long and fabled history played out on the world stage. And today both produce vehicles that encapsulate the very essence of freedom and the spirit of adventure.


Building on the success of the last four years, Jeep will have a larger presence at three major Harley-Davidson European events: Euro Festival in Saint-Tropez, France (7-10 June), the 115th Anniversary of Harley-Davidson in Prague, Czech Republic (5-8 July) and European Bike Week™ in Faaker See, Austria (4-9 September).

Jeep will also attend other Harley-Davidson events in the year including Africa Bike Week™ in South Africa (26-29 April), the Tuscany Rally in Italy (25-27 May) and the Thunder in The Glens event in Aviemore, Scotland (24-27 August). In addition, Jeep will showcase vehicles at local events across the EMEA region.

Event visitors will be given the opportunity to get up close and personal – and test drive – the entire Jeep line-up. The special guest at each major event will be one of the new products that will enhance the Jeep range this year, including the all-new Wrangler. All will be available for exciting test drives on and off-road. The full 2018 range of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, including the all-new Softail® models, will be on display and available for test ride at all events.

Jeep Harley

There will also be a strong Jeep dealer presence to handle enquiries, a terrace ‘chill out’ area, an exciting zip line experience and a Mopar® expo area where the public will be able to admire the latest Jeep models. This will include the iconic Wrangler equipped with Mopar Original Accessories created to enhance its look, functionality and off-road capabilities. Here visitors will also receive information on Mopar products and services, as well as on the endless possibilities of customizing their Jeep vehicles.

Visitors can ‘shop-till-they-drop’ and will be able to purchase Jeep and Harley-Davidson merchandise from the official outlet stores on site, while H.O.G members can also take advantage of a limited offer with preferential rates to purchase new Jeep vehicles. All events will be complemented by strong digital, social media and print exposure for the Jeep brand across all of Harley-Davidson’s channels.

The reinforced relationship builds on the core values the two brands share: freedom, adventure, and a passion for the open road, with all of the experiences it brings. Both produce vehicles that encapsulate the very essence of freedom and the spirit of adventure and allow customers to live out their individuality in a strong and distinctive way. Owners of the two brands also share something very special – a sense of belonging that often translates into highly customised vehicles that reflect their owners’ creativity and personality.

To further underline the expertise of both brands for personalisation, a special promotion called ‘Custom Cousins’ has been launched and will feature on J.O.G. and H.O.G. social channels. The contest will see the two communities engaged in submitting entries and voting for the best customised Wranglers.

The contest will crown three ‘best of the best’ Wrangler personalisations, with owners winning a trip to the Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary celebrations in Prague to take part in the on-site expo activities. Among H.O.G. members that have been voting in the contest, 10 winners will be awarded tickets to the Jeep Owners Group’s most important annual event – Camp Jeep – taking place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 13-15.


Automotive news In the News

New Generation Ford Expedition: Tested to Withstand the Middle East’s Toughest Conditions

From treacherous terrains to heat-soaked cities, every Ford vehicle undergoes thousands of hours of scrutiny by a team of hundreds of engineers, designers and technicians stationed around the globe long before it makes it to the showroom floor.

The new-generation Expedition is no exception. Almost a year to the day ahead of its Middle East market launch, in a sweltering corner of the desert near Dubai, a group of engineers is poring over the 2018 Expedition ahead of its first venture on to UAE sand.


It’s mid-July 2017, and the temperature has already soared to close to 50 degrees Celsius. A breeze has kicked up, bringing with it clouds of swirling fine dust and sand – making the conditions extremely challenging for engineers. The new generation Expedition sits ready for the day ahead. External sensors are taped to its new aluminum bodywork, tyres have been deflated to offer better traction on sand, and final checks are made by the team – a collection of engineers from Dearborn, Michigan, and Ford’s own Middle East in-market product development team based in Dubai.

Expedition chief programme engineer Todd Hoevener is present, and explains, “In-market testing is to confirm the work we’ve done, and fine tune the product before it’s introduced. Our standards within Ford account for extreme conditions, so we developed this vehicle for global use. But it is very important to test in market, not only here but in other parts of the world, for final confirmation.

“Even though we simulate these temperatures in our labs and at our Arizona proving ground, this is a unique combination of both deep sand – which is very fine, versus the coarse sand we have in the States – as well as high temperatures. In addition, high winds with sand blowing really test the car’s ability to handle sand ingestion,” he adds.

Weather aside, the Middle East offers very unique circumstances for Ford’s engineering team to contend with. Vehicle use in this part of the world differs greatly to other areas; customers are more likely to take their SUVs offroad into the desert or onto a trail – and expectations on capability are set extremely high. While driving on the loose sand is fairly similar all over the world, desert driving in deep sand on a reasonably regular basis is something particular to this region – and customers expect SUVs to deliver where it counts.

At more than 5.3 metres long and 2.1 metres wide, the new generation Expedition is easily the most spacious desert-going eight-seat vehicle on the market. With a 400hp* and best-in-class 650Nm* EcoBoost engine, class-exclusive 10-speed transmission and advanced four-wheel drive system with two-speed transfer case, the Expedition is equipped to handle the Middle East’s toughest conditions. With a tailored Terrain Management System (TMS), mastering any surface – whether on the loose sand or on tarmac – is as easy as turning a dial.

“The off-road modes are designed to help drivers navigate conditions they may not be familiar with – like sand,” Hoevener explained. “What’s the worst thing that can happen to you as a driver when you’ve got your family and friends in the car? Getting stuck. Sand mode, if you’re not as skilled, just makes it enjoyable to drive – and you have that safety net of having the vehicle electronics there to help.”

Much of that learning comes from the long hours Ford’s team put into developing the car – and in-market testing is essential in fully understanding situations customers will face.

“During development, we drive to get stuck so that we know the limits of the vehicle. We then calibrate our engine management and Terrain Management System settings so that the next time we – or, ultimately, the customer – gets into that situation, the vehicle doesn’t get stuck again,” he said.

For Ford engineers, that means long days in the desert heat, and more days of on-road testing where the 3.5-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost faces challenging mountain roads at the height of the UAE summer, and city driving conditions in temperatures close to 50 degrees Celsius.

“It’s a very proud moment to see the vehicle perform well in these types of situations and drive it to see how the people in this market will be using the product. I’ve been on the programme since it started a few years ago, so it’s great to see it finally developed and in a market that clearly loves the Expedition,” Hoevener concluded.



Special Reports

25 years of RAMY Automotive



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.


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.


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.


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.