AL NABOODA AUTOMOBILES

Dubai 2020 | MOBILITY | INTERVIEW

The entire world is going electric.

K. Rajaram
BIOGRAPHY

K. Rajaram has almost four decades of experience in the automotive industry. He started his career in Muscat in 1983. After working in Oman for almost 18 years, in 1996 he re-located to Dubai to run the Audi, Volkswagen, and Porsche franchise in the UAE. He became the CEO of Al Nabooda Automobiles in September of the same year.

How should companies in the sector adjust in line with the transformation of the car industry?
The current economic climate dictates that the auto industry be innovative in its approach to acquire new customers and be resilient. Another challenge is to cope with the rapid advancement of technology. The entire world is going electric, and, in line with that, all the major companies are releasing electric cars. For Al Nabooda Automobiles, the first one will be the Porsche Taycan, followed by the Audi E-Tron. There has been so much disruption in this space that the entire business mentality must change to handle new challenges and opportunities. This change requires investments in infrastructure development of two kinds. First, the vehicle-charging infrastructure will need to be ramped up, and the automobile industry will need the support of the government in order to ensure that people can conveniently charge their cars. Second, automobile dealerships will have to make significant investments in special service center infrastructure and training of after-sales staff.

How has the company evolved over the years, and how do you maneuver when there are slowdowns in the market?
We started as a small establishment, selling a total of 300-400 cars a year, and in peak years, that figure jumped to 10,000 cars. We are among the world's largest Porsche dealers and control 40% of sales for Audi Volkswagen in the Middle East. During a slowdown, the most effective thing to do is to look at your cost structure and find areas for greater efficiencies. We have made significant investments in embracing digitalization and online technologies to be able to cater to the needs of our potential customers. Having said that, buying a car remains an emotional point of contact. That is the reason why we have developed our world-class showrooms and service centers.