ALWAYS MOVING FORWARD

Kazakhstan 2015 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Farrukh Makhmudov, Chairman of the Board Group of Companies “Autodom," on the nuances of the local car market, packaging offerings, and competing with a slew of new companies entering the market.

Farrukh Makhmudov
BIOGRAPHY
Farrukh Makhmudov graduated from Almaty branch of Dzhambul Techonological Institute with a degree in Community Nutrition Technologies. In 2000 he did his MBA in Finance at the Kazakhstan Institute for Economy Management and Prognosis (KIMEP). His career began at AvtoVAZ in 1991 as a mechanic, and in 1993 he was promoted to department head. From 1996 till 1998 worked as an assistant to the sales and marketing manager at a representative office of Ates Aku. From 2001 until 2013, he worked as a regional manager and then sales director for Toyota Tsusho Kazakhstan Auto, and from 2003 onwards, he has been the head of the board of Autodom Company.

How do you assess Kazakhstan's car market?

Kazakhstan's car market has been significantly affected by fluctuation in ruble's exchange rate. The dealers' prices became less competitive under such circumstances. We expect the market to shrink by 60%. There is a truly difficult year ahead of us, but we hope the situation will improve in the coming three months as the prices go up in Russia.

What is the significance of the recently opened Toyota City center in the Central Asia, which is the largest of its kind?

The opening was a long-awaited event because Toyota is the brand of choice in Kazakhstan, and wait times at the two other service centers were an inconvenience for our customers. There are no lines now. On top of that, we are also providing express service, which is twice as fast as normal service. Customers come to Toyota first, and we are consistently working to improve the range of the services that we provide and improve quality.

What financing incentives does Toyota-City offer?

We make a real effort to meet the demands of our customers. Together with five financial institutions, including TFS (Toyota Financial System), we offer a number of products such as loans, installment payments, and operational and financial leasing. We also provide insurance products such as CNC, liability insurance, service insurance, and quite a few other insurance packages.

What are the most popular Toyota vehicles in Kazakhstan?

The complete range of Toyota can be seen in Kazakhstan, however, the most popular ones are the Camry and the Land Cruiser. Last year Toyota introduced a new model to the market—the Toyota Fortuner. This vehicle is the first Toyota assembled in Kazakhstan. We acknowledge that it will take time for customers to appreciate the advantages of this model, but we see great potential for it in Kazakhstan. Toyota Fortuner is a perfect car for Kazakstan's roads and extreme weather conditions. It is already taking off in the countryside and in the mining and oil sector.

Could you tell us about Toyota's share of the automotive market in Kazakhstan, and what you are doing to increase its share?

Over the past 15 years, Toyota's share of the market dropped from 47% to 8.2% because of the other car producers entering the market, including more affordable brands such as Hyundai, Daewoo, Lada, Chevrolet, and Kia. Kazakhstan's customers understand that Toyota is a quality brand, but still opt for the cheaper option. We are trying to show customers that it is more reasonable to buy a Toyota in the long run. Toyota's share will reach 10% in the near future as we recover our share.

Could you tell us a bit more about Toyota-City's plans for 2015?

Toyota-City Almaty will keep focusing on the customers' needs. We would like to remain a client-oriented company moving forward. We hope to keep our old customers, as well as attract new ones. Toyota will keep working to improve the quality of its services. In 2015, we are opening a special test drive track to test-drive Toyotas on various road conditions. We are also opening a new Japanese restaurant at the service center and are planning to set up a special kids' zone. In addition, we are planning on opening a body shop, which will allow us to provide a full range of services.