Al Habtoor Motors recently signed deals with two of China’s top automakers – including the number one selling Chinese brand – Chery. Joanna Andrews caught up with Michael Zhang, Chery’s Deputy General Manager of Middle East Region.
Chery Automobiles was founded in 1997. It manufactures passenger and commercial vehicles and has global presence in over 80 countries. Following the deal with Al Habtoor Motors, the Chinese auto giant will be introducing its complete range to the UAE.
"Introducing Chery in the UAE was a very strategic decision for Al Habtoor Motors. We are impressed by the fast growth, innovation and competitive range that is visible in the Chery line up. We believe that this is great news for all the residents of the UAE," said Joe Rogan, Sales Director of Al Habtoor Motors.
The deal was signed by Sultan Al Habtoor - President of Al Habtoor Motors and Michael Zhang - Deputy General Manager of Middle East Region for Chery.
Why did Chery team up with Al Habtoor Motors?
Al Habtoor Motors is one of the leading automotive dealers in the UAE and possess the kind of industry expertise that Chery has been looking for in its business partner in the UAE. We are proud to be associated with Al Habtoor Motors and look forward to a great relationship for many many years to come.
How important is this region to Chery?
As one of Chery's most important overseas markets, the GCC has witnessed the rapid development of its auto industry in recent years and the huge potential of the industry. Over the 11 years since the launch of Chery's overseas operations, Chery has gradually shifted from marketing in single countries and markets to regional marketing and linkage. Chery will launch an array of all new products on the GCC market this year, with the UAE as the first station, followed by other GCC countries. Chery and all its distributors in GCC expect to spend two to three years building Chery brand into a regionally influential auto brand, establishing the model image of Chinese auto brands and imprinting Chery brand on consumers' mind.
What can Chery offer to the UAE marketplace?
Chery is committed to providing costeffective products to global customers including those in the UAE. We will output quality products, optimise our sales network and offer better after-sales services to create better experience for our distributors and terminal customers. Also, we hope to make our due contribution to the UAE's auto industry and good trade relations between China and the UAE.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Chery has persisted in the development strategy of "independent innovation" for many years. Its achievements so far have been attributable to its constant efforts in R&D, product quality and brand building.
Chery's biggest advantage is that it has an R&D team of over 6,000 members, has formed a complete R&D system. It has mastered design and manufacturing technologies of vehicles and key parts. It has a management mechanism and corporate culture encouraging innovation. Thus, Chery has succeeded in export because we own independent core technologies, are entrepreneurial and innovative, and are not controlled by others in key fields.
How do you adapt your product for each market you enter?
In terms of product choice, we adhere to market orientation, conduct adequate studies before entering markets, choose products suiting local consumers along with our partners, and improve products according to localisation requirements and consumers' preferences to satisfy demands of local consumers. In terms of network building, Chery has a rigorous mechanism of overseas distributor recruitment and management assessment.
In terms of production, we have provided uniform quality products to global markets. We have rigorous quality inspection systems in a dozen overseas plants and Chinese plants to ensure that every Chery car sold in the world is up to Chery's quality standards.
You are relatively young brand, however, you have flooded the market with cars (3 mln in just over 10 years). What's been the secret to success?
1. Solely control core automobile R&D and production technologies;
2. Quality assurance that meets international standard, and preeminent cost control & management;
3. Basically complete the construction of the worldwide sales network and service network;
4. Policy support from Chinese government and financial support from the National Development Bank
Chery is a little-known brand in the region, so what do you think will be your biggest challenge here?
Chery has stood out of Chinese independent automakers, but we remain young compared to our foreign peers. All key car-producing countries in the world have their own specialties: German cars are technically versatile, Japanese cars are sophisticated and American cars are luxurious. All these are models for Chinese automakers.
As late comers in the global auto industry, Chinese automakers should learn the strengths of their peers in the above-mentioned countries, and gradually enhance the popularity and reputation of Chery brand by providing cost-effective products.
Our biggest challenge is always from us, we should earnestly learn R&D and management experience from advanced foreign automakers, and gain insight into local religious and folk cultures, to accomplish product localization, marketing localization, personnel localisation and culture localisation. This will be a long and tough process, but we must work hard towards it.