Renault Middle East is quietly celebrating their own little milestone in the region, selling more cars than ever this quarter and achieving their highest ever GCC market share. Granted, it’s only at 1.5% now, but there is cause to celebrate. Despite a decline in the region’s overall market, Renault Middle East actually managed a 0.29% increase in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period last year. We sat down with Marwan Haidamous, Managing Director of Renault Middle East, for a chat on this as well as future products.
Mr. Haidamous has been with Renault internationally for the past 15 years, taking over GCC operations a couple of years ago. Renault claims to have improved customer service by promising quicker responses to enquiries and offering an app to book service appointments, among other things. But while we were one of the earliest proponents of the rejuvenated brand (we used to own a Renault Safrane), it’s the proliferation of desirable new models as well that has increased sales.
While the lower-end Duster broke the car industry by introducing a relatively cheap SUV in the GCC, it is not Renault’s top seller in the GCC any more. That would be the Koleos, according to Haidamous. Apparently the well-received Koleos is being considered by consumers more seriously nowadays, right alongside typical Japanese rivals.
Number two in sales is the Duster, and that’s before the new model is introduced in a couple of months and expected to take the top spot again. Haidamous says it owns 45% of that segment of the market. At number three is the Captur.
Regarding electric cars, Renault is the first to offer the affordable Zoe EV hatchback in the UAE currently, and Haidamous says it has the longest real-life range in its class, at 300 km. He believes sales of EVs will pick up as the government supports growth in infrastructure and incentives. We asked about the reliability of battery packs in our region, and he says the battery warranty is 4 years, while the car itself gets 3 years. He added that there has not been a case of serious battery failure in the 9 years since Renault started getting involved in EVs.
When asked about future performance products, he confirmed the open secret that the Megane RS is coming to the UAE by October 2018. In a surprise, he also revealed to us that the new Porsche-chasing Alpine A110 sports car is coming here next year as well, after extensive testing to suit our conditions.
Haidamous is honest about the fact that Renault’s current growth rate is better than the industry average because they started small, so the only way to go is up. However, it’s clear that, after years of stagnation, Renault finally is growing in the Middle East.