The automotive industry is getting back on track

Rashid Z. Alzayani, Managing Director of Zayani Motors talks to Gulf Insider about recovery in the wake of the pandemic, the importance of exploring alternative means of sustaining dealerships, technology revolutionising driving experience, and outlook on EVs in Bahrain.

What’s the current state of Bahrain’s car market, and how were sales affected during the two years of the pandemic?

It is no surprise that the global pandemic had a big impact on the automobile industry, as it did with many other sectors across the country. The peak of the crisis was a particularly powerful blow, with lessened demand due to national restrictions and decreased individual mobility. That said, things are looking up again as restrictions ease and the economy resumes its vigour. Demand began growing as of last year and sales are once more on the rise, so we are excited about the year ahead.

Supply chain issues created by the pandemic have affected our stock allocations, which in turn had an impact on our sales volumes. As a result, we now have a strong order bank waiting to be filled. With the supply chain issues now largely resolved and demand growing, we expect our sales figures to return to pre-pandemic levels as supply catches up to demand.

How does Zayani Motors position itself in Bahrain’s competitive auto sales market?

The mission of Zayani Motors is to provide its clients, both commercial and non-commercial, with the highest possible quality of products, sales and after-sales services. We are proud to lean on over two decades of distinguished operations, unwavering dedication and recognition in the form of awards, accolades and, of course, business success.

What differentiates the brands you offer from competitor brands?

We pride ourselves on being attuned to the demands of the local market in both the commercial and non-commercial spaces. Mitsubishi and MG are mainstays of the market known to guarantee advanced performance, reliability and a competitive price range. 

With our introduction of Chinese luxury auto brand Hongqi to the Bahraini market, we now have a truly unique product offering comprising stylish and premium luxury vehicles alongside our well-established passenger and commercial vehicle brands.

How has the technology and quality of new cars improved over recent years?

We live in an age of rapid technological advancement and car tech is certainly making great leaps. Features like advanced driver assistance systems, smartphone connectivity, mobile apps and 360-degree cameras used to be part of the luxury motoring industry, but they are now common in affordable cars. This enhances the driving experience and improves safety. 

The world is increasingly focusing on EVs (Electric Vehicles). What are your predictions for EVs in Bahrain?

Sustainability is one of the guiding principles of Bahrain’s Vision 2030, and the increased migration towards EVs is aligned with achieving that objective. There are two key components to the success of EVs – the quality and availability of product and the infrastructure that allows it to flourish.     

In terms of product, Zayani Motors is bringing in models such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV low-emissions SUV. However, fully electric vehicles are the next phase of the evolution, and we are already delivering in that area with the MG ZS EV SUV and the Hongqi E-HS9 luxury EV SUV.

In terms of infrastructure, there is still groundwork to be done to have a convenient network of charging stations, faster charging times, and incentives for EV usage. This will be a gradual process, but we are already seeing a change in mindset towards social and environmental responsibility, so the signs are very encouraging. 

What do you consider to be the greatest challenges (and opportunities) facing dealerships in 2022?

The pandemic taught us the importance of exploring alternative means of sustaining dealerships, and one key component of this is facilitating a shift to online avenues of car purchase. It is also important for dealerships to offer more flexible buying options to make car ownership an easier prospect.

The opportunities are huge, as there is definitely an economic bounce back as the world returns to semi-normalcy after an unusual couple of years. We expect to see more people buying or rewarding themselves with new cars after holding off for the past two years.


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