Roberto Da Silva, General Manager Retail, Al Futtaim Motors-Toyota talks about the company’s hybrid technology push and what will make Toyota tick in 2016.
YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL BUSINESS FOR SEVERAL YEARS IN THE UAE. WHAT DO YOU FEEL HAVE BEEN THE MAIN HIGHLIGHTS OF
a. We at Al Futtaim Motors have a customer-centric approach, committed to continuously enhancing the quality of our customer experiences. Therefore, I remember that when the automotive industry was hit by some global challenges a few years back, we chose to make use of these times to train and develop our associates and enhance our processes to be better equipped for the future
b. Seeing the business grow has been a source of pride for me personally. We have a very dedicated and hardworking team at Al-Futtaim Motors, and this has shone through with the consistent growth that we’ve seen over the past couple of years.
We also launched three all-new Toyota Business Centres, dedicated to serve our SME customers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates. This means exclusive account management, faster enquiry response, vehicle registration support, and dedicated delivery process, aftersales packages, leasing facilities, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) approach and Fleet Management consultancy, ensuring Al-Futtaim Motors’ SME customers experience the company’s full range of Toyota Business Solutions.
WHAT BUSINESS OBJECTIVES HAVE YOU OUTLINED FOR AL FUTTAIM MOTORS-TOYOTA FOR 2016?
a. Growth is of course top of mind for all of us here, and this is something that we’ll be targeting for 2016. Particularly, we are looking to develop our SME offering even further. Last year, we introduced several solutions that have assisted our customers in getting their businesses up and running faster, and this is something we’ll fine-tune even more this year.
b. We believe the introduction of Toyota Prius, the new hybrid car, will lead the future of the mobility in the UAE. We remain the industry leader and hold our role as a responsible corporate citizen in high regard, which means it is our priority to increase awareness about hybrid technology among SMEs as an eminent solution to not just petrol savings, but also allowing them to play their part in the UAE Vision 2021 goal of a green society.
TOYOTA WILL EQUIP ITS CARS WITH SELF-DRIVING SYSTEMS BY 2020. WHY ARE YOU STEERING TOWARDS THE DIRECTION OF SELF-DRIVING CARS?
a. We have not had any direct talks with the Principals on this technology as of yet.
WHAT PHILOSOPHY DOES TOYOTA FOLLOW ON SAFETY AND SECURE SYSTEMS?
a. Safety is a priority not only for Toyota but for Al-Futtaim Motors as the sole distributor in the UAE as well.
b. Toyota’s philosophy of “Ever Better Cars” encompasses safety as one of its principles. By linking the innovative safety technology system equipped on vehicles in each stage of driving, Toyota is aiming to develop safe vehicles for everyone.
c. The development of Toyota Safety Sense is a new dimension of comprehensive integrated safety, and it was developed with focus on collision avoidance support, lane deviation prevention support and night visibility support, in order to reduce and in the future eliminate accidents.
HOW IS THE BRAND MODIFYING ITSELF FOR THE NEXT-GENERATION OF TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS?
a. Toyota is the worldwide leader in hybrid technology and fuel cell technology, with a large line up of hybrid cars and recently the first commercial fuel cell vehicle, the Toyota Mirai.
b. As a sign of how serious Toyota is about reducing emissions, Toyota issued itself the “Environmental Challenge 2050”, the goal of which is to go beyond zero environmental impact and achieve a net positive impact. The six challenges within are new vehicles with zero CO2 emissions, life cycle zero CO2 emissions, plant zero CO2 emissions, minimizing and optimizing water usage, establishing a recycling-based society and systems, and finally, establishing a future society in harmony with nature.
c. More information about the Toyota challenge can be found at http://www.toyota-global.com/sustainability/environment/challenge2050/
ACCORDING TO AN EXPERT ARTICLE, TOYOTA RELIGIOUSLY FOLLOWS THE MANTRA OF ‘CUSTOMERS FIRST, DEALERS SECOND—AND MANUFACTURER LAST’. WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND THIS ETHIC?
a. Customer first approach is very much our mantra. The customer is at the center of everything we do, in the aim of elevating the overall customer experience at every touch point of his journey with us.
b. New facilities that have fast and personalized aftersales experiences, such as our Al Badia 3S facility, new digital solutions including a brand new website and the region’s first virtual showroom tour, are just a few of the projects we have implemented to ensure a unique and carefree purchasing experience from Al-Futtaim Motors.
TOYOTA HAS ALWAYS BEEN COMMITTED TO UPGRADING THE SKILLS OF ITS WORKERS RATHER THAN TO A HIRE AND FIRE POLICY. DURING THE 1997 ASIAN FINANCIAL CRISIS, HIROSHI OKUDA, PRESIDENT OF TOYOTA INDUSTRIES CORPORATION, STATED “CUT ALL COSTS, BUT DON’T TOUCH ANY PEOPLE”. TODAY THE MARKET HAS BECOME MORE CALLOUS AND VOLATILE, SO HOW DOES TOYOTA FOLLOW ITS PEOPLE PHILOSOPHY?
a. Al-Futtaim Motors has been part of the fabric of this nation for more than 60 years, having celebrated our diamond jubilee last year. Being part of the Al-Futtaim Group of companies, we believe that our talent is our greatest asset, and an integral part of our strategy has been developing our own infrastructure, as well as developing the manpower with which to maintain it, something that has been essential to our success.
b. The Al-Futtaim Automotive Academy is dedicated to providing essential training to develop the required skill sets for all of our associates. We have even developed a stage for associates to showcase what they have learned at the National Skills Contest, as well as other initiatives to keep our associates motivated to not just deliver results, but also have the passion to learn more and develop themselves in the workplace.
c. Additionally we have recently added a certification program for our frontline Sales Executives whereby our teams have to complete a number of rigorous customer-centric development plans in order to attain this much sought after certification.
ARE YOU OFFERING ANY NEW SERVICES AND SCHEMES FOR SMBs THIS YEAR?
a. Our latest SME offer is something we’ve called “Triple Zero”, which offers zero down payment – with several different options to support any type of business, zero interest rate through our extensive banks network, and zero payments for 3 months.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN BRAND DIFFERENTIATION FROM OTHERS?
a. Toyota is known for its quality, durability and reliability. More importantly, total cost of ownership is the best in the business, and it’s backed by 60 years of experience from Al-Futtaim Motors.
On the total cost of ownership front, Toyota vehicles have the best residual value, best fuel consumption, best management costs and of course, best service, maintenance and repair costs. Combining all of these means that a business’ Toyota vehicles spend more time on the road, where they are meant to be, for longer.
WHAT ARE THE AUTOMOTIVE TRENDS YOU FORESEE IN 2016?
a. We believe hybrid is the future and 2016 will be the stepping stone for this technology to show what it can offer to the UAE.
We have already seen how hybrid technology can help businesses, with many taxi corporations relying on a fleet of Camry hybrid cars to save not just money, but also drastically lower pollutant emissions.
We hope that the introduction of a popular hybrid solution such as the Toyota Prius will drive the regular populace to contribute to lowering emissions in the UAE, helping the UAE Government achieve its environmental targets before Expo 2020
PLEASE TELL US WHAT SMBs CAN LEARN FROM TOYOTA?
a. The Toyota way revolves around the philosophy of “Kaizen”, a Japanese word that means “continuous improvement”. At Al-Futtaim Motors, we implement this philosophy in everything we do, whether in the cars we sell, the services we provide to our customers, or being a good corporate citizen.
b. This is driven by our group vision to be the auto company of choice by providing value based customer experiences enabled by an empowered and engaged workforce – choice, value, empowered and engage being powerful words that sit firmly behind our vision… choice for customer, employees and manufacturers and adding value to our customers experience.
Improving the way we conduct business as well as the way we work within our business units has enabled us to become the largest dealer in the UAE, with unrivalled market share, products and services. That is the philosophy SMBs need to embrace in order to grow.