In a tough market, Porsche gives the thrust

 

2013 Porsche 911

The launch of premium German sports car manufacturer Porsche’s new state-of-the-art showroom in Dubai belies the tough market conditions the company may have to operate in, this year.

Three floors, a quarter of a million square feet and 49 gleaming cars on display, including supercars on loan owned by royalty to vintage beauties and the latest models on the road.

Add to this a Tequipment Corner, displaying the latest personalization and customization offerings, a brandspot, an interactive display providing customers insight into the history of the cars, a racing simulator that replicates the experience on the racetrack and a café, located on every level. Throw in a fitting lounge and a driver’s selection boutique store on the sides too.

Sounds like a swanky motor museum? Nope. It’s the snazzy new Porsche showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road, which, along with the aforementioned features, comes with breathtaking views of the Dubai skyline.

The new AED144 million Porsche Centre launched by Al Nabooda Automobiles LLC is, one of the largest in the world, and also the first to pilot Porsche’s new digitalization concept, which converts video screens in the showroom to a point of sale screen, delivering key information to customers wherever they are in the building.

“This kind of offering definitely helps sales because it is not only a showroom to sell cars, but a place where you can entertain clients and prospective future customers. In some markets, we don’t have the volumes to offer a similar experience, in others we don’t have space. Here in Dubai, we have both – space, as well as ample commitment from investors,” Franz Jung, Vice-President of Overseas and Emerging Markets at Porsche AG, tells TRENDS on the sidelines of the launch.

But does the swank of the new facility belie the tough market conditions on the ground, particularly in the MENA region?

Porsche has had a stellar 2014, selling more than 189,000 units globally – a year-on-year growth of 17 percent. Growth in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa outpaced the global average by two percent, (unable, however, to beat the record 26 percent sales growth the carmaker clocked in 2013 for the region) and January deliveries are up a cool 31 percent in comparison with the same month last year, driven by sales of the 911 and the Cayenne. In Asia Pacific and MENA, deliveries have shown a 22 percent jump.

“We’ve had a positive start to the year, but demand sustainability isn’t in our hands. The full impact of oil prices on the economy is still unfolding, but broadly, the sentiment is one of caution. We will be more careful with our estimates this year,” admits Vijay Rao, General Manager at Al Nabooda Automobiles LLC, official dealer for Porsche in Dubai and the northern emirates.

The company is unwilling to give sales forecasts for the region in 2015, but says  it will be a year of high volatility.

“We are seeing indicators that the entire region is under pressure,” says Jung. “We have everything that isn’t needed – geopolitical conflict, low oil prices… All of this makes the picture look quite different from last year.”

This doesn’t mean, however, that Porsche would ride out of this volatility and stimulate demand through high discounts.

“We are a premium brand and need to maintain that perception. If the market isn’t able to absorb volumes naturally, then we’ll step back a little. We aren’t eager to sell every single unit we have at whatever cost,” Jung adds.

This approach, along with the launch of the all-new Dubai facility, which followed the 2014 opening of two new Porsche Centres in Fujairah and Sharjah, continues to demonstrate the carmaker’s faith in the MENA markets. And 2015 will surely be a test of that conviction.

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