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The impact of tech innovation on the Middle East’s auto industry

By: Thierry Sabbagh, Managing Director – Nissan Middle East

Advancements in technology have impacted the way we build, sell, and even drive cars across the globe, but perhaps the revolutionary impacts of technology are deeper rooted. Today, we are closer than ever to smarter, safer, and more connected travel, with many automakers discussing the implementation of V2X (Vehicle to Everything), V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) and V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure) communication systems in the near future.

While we have been seeing technological advancements in all areas, including electric mobility, autonomous driving, connectivity, and shared mobility, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a turning point for the EV market in specific. According to Deloitte, recent studies show that total global EV sales will grow to an estimate of 11.2 million cars in 2025 and potentially reach 31.1 million by 2030.

With stricter emission laws and mounting concerns for the environment, there has also been a growing interest in carbon neutrality across the automotive industry. However, while it is easier said than done, a few of us have already got the ball rolling. For example, Nissan’s 2050 carbon neutrality goal includes electrifying every all-new Nissan vehicle offering in key markets by the early 2030s. Supercharging our efforts is the recently unveiled EV36Zero, a £1 billion flagship EV Hub centered around our Sunderland plant in the UK. This exciting new project will establish a new 360-degree solution for zero-emission motoring – with the production of a new-generation all-electric vehicle in the UK, a new battery production gigafactory and a renewable energy microgrid.

In the Middle East region, auto brands have been at the forefront of conversations related to smart mobility and its role in creating a sustainable future. In the UAE, for example, Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority recently announced a long-term plan to have zero-emission public transport in Dubai by 2050, becoming the first government body in the MENA region to map out such a comprehensive plan for public transport and related infrastructure.

Being the Official Automotive Partner for Expo 2020 Dubai, we look forward to sharing our global expertise and thought leadership in sustainable transportation and smart-city solutions, in addition to showcasing our all-new 100% electric crossover SUV, Nissan Ariya, for the first time in the Middle East, giving visitors from around the world a chance to witness Nissan’s next-generation crossover EV. Launched globally in July 2020, Ariya represented the beginning of the Nissan NEXT transformation plan, a four-year strategy building on Nissan’s reputation for innovation, craftsmanship, customer focus and quality.

It would also be worthwhile to highlight that the impacts of technology in the automotive industry are far deeper than just on the design, development, or manufacturing front. Given the challenging circumstances we are currently in, technology has opened new avenues for automakers to connect with existing and potential customers.

For years, experts have highlighted the growing importance of digital platforms and tools for consumer engagement; however, the current pandemic has kicked this into high gear.

Ever since the start of the pandemic, we have been witnessing a complete shift from what used to be the ‘normal’ – as brands and as individuals. Due to this shift, companies have been adopting new and interesting ways to connect with consumers across various touchpoints as customers truly appreciate brands that provide solutions to ease their everyday lives. It is vital for organizations to understand that the power of the consumer continues to grow, and it is our responsibility to recognize and respond to their changing demands in order to build trust and in turn build brand equity.

The rise in video communication platforms has allowed us to mimic the experience of a showroom visit onto our customers’ mobile phones, allowing them to connect with sales agents and browse their model of choice from the comfort of their homes.

As part of our efforts to cater to our customers’ evolving needs and provide them with a hybrid experience, we have digitalized the entire customer journey with an interactive E-Commerce platform, including a virtual showroom and sales experience, door-to-door services for test drives, online finance calculator and pre-finance application, online car ordering, AI chatbot, and digital training academy.

Moving forward into the new normal, we will be seeing a hybrid, customer-centric approach to automotive experiences. The customer journey will start online but will eventually end in the showroom as physically driving a car is essential to provide a true first-hand experience.

In the region, all our showrooms have successfully implemented our ‘Safe & Clean’ certification programme to maintain high levels of health and safety measures across authorized Nissan dealers, and are aligned with the global Nissan Retail Concept (NRC), which provides seamless integration of all touchpoints in the customer journey as well as on innovation and bringing new customer experiences. At a time when the automotive industry is going through monumental shifts, there has never been a better time to discuss the impacts and benefits of technology on people’s lives.

Nissan is committed to the Middle East region, as we continue to strengthen our brand presence and maintain the trust of our customers and partners through building on the strength of our products, meeting emerging customer needs, accelerating the regional introduction of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, and digitizing the customer journey.

For more information on Nissan, visit their website.


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