The ongoing crisis posed by the COVID-19 Coronavirus has upended every industry almost making many items as non-essential for the time being. But, despite the situation, common sense dictates that even in such a situation, there are certain things that will always remain essential. Vehicles, for that matter! And therefore, the automotive sector, a central part of the manufacturing business globally, will not only just function, but also thrive, perhaps in a different format that would be in line with the changed times.
Meet people’s needs for high-quality vehicles
And like Riyadh Ali Sultan, general manager of Towell Auto Centre (TAC) rightly points out: “Vehicles remain an absolutely essential part of our lives – they are used for business, family, recreation and many other day-to-day functions.
“And this will surely remain the case for many years to come – despite difficult situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. Our collective strategy, moving ahead, is simply to meet the people of Oman’s need for high-quality vehicles that are practical, reliable and affordable – and that come with excellent sales and after sales services.”
TAC has not hesitated to take tough decisions
Riyadh agrees that it has been a challenging time. “Nobody has seen such situations where we were to overcome health and financial risks like never before. I am proud to say that TAC has not hesitated to take tough decisions to ensure safety of all and positive financial results in the near future,” he noted.
Biggest challenges behind us
Riyadh feels that “the biggest challenges are behind us”. “And we have to move forward to embrace what is in front of us rather than ponder over what we have lost.
Wise leadership of His Majesty Haitham bin Tarik
The government under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik has done a fabulous job of maintaining all health requirements and issuing guidelines from time to time to keep us all safe,” he enthused.
Not stop spending, but change how it is spent
The TAC and JAC Motors recently launched several vehicles into the Oman market. Asked how they saw it fit to launch new vehicles when the auto market was in doldrums, Riyadh responded:
“Selling during recession will never be easy. Customer’s purchase behaviour undergoes profound changes and during this period you must support your customers on their new, different journey and re-engineer your value proposition. This is a time, not to stop spending money, but to change how you spend it.”
Riyadh was of the opinion that customers’ purchase behavior undergoes “profound changes” and during this period, the sellers must support their clients on their “new, different journey and re-engineer the value proposition”.
“This is not a time to stop spending money – but to change how you spend it,” he stressed.
Towell Auto Centre and JAC Motors have recently launched several vehicles to the Oman market – including the new S3 and S4 Crossover SUVs, the T8 Pick-up, the M4 Bus/Van, and nine seater buses etc.
In the current scenario, when the market seems to be either dull or perhaps even non-existent (to a layman at least), what are the opportunities that TAC and JAC Motors are seeing in the Oman market beyond the common view?
Selling during recession will never be easy. Customer’s purchase behaviour undergoes profound changes and during this period you must support your customers on their new, different journey and re-engineer your value proposition. This is a time, not to stop spending money, but to change how you spend it.
This is also an opportunity, because firms who are willing to support customer’s needs in a recession not only get many new customers, but also retain most of their loyal customers.
Are TAC and JAC Motors making a bold statement to the market with these recent launches – a statement that says life and business goes on, despite the crisis?
Every challenge also offers a new opportunity. We, at Towell as well at JAC Motors are looking at the positive side of things. Oman is a young country with a huge potential. ‘Set New Rules’ is what JAC is all about and while everyone around us is overcoming challenges of their own, in their own way, why should we not challenge the status quo? These ranges of new Crossover/SUV models, nine-seater buses and panel vans as well as robust pick–ups offer unbeatable value, superior styling and dependable quality. We have a product to meet personal and commercial requirements and give an opportunity to the market to take advantage.
The JAC Motors has been in Oman for over 10 years with TAC and this extended range offers Oman a chance to look at things differently. In fact, this willingness to embrace and overcome challenge is an integral part of the DNA of both TAC and most importantly JAC Motors themselves. With this in mind, we are thrilled to have launched these new models into the market in Oman.
What are the areas that TAC and JAC Motors are planning to open up or expand with these latest launches?
We literally have a product of every segment – individuals at the retail and companies at the fleet level. The JAC’s new S3 – SUV 1.6L is a Crossover SUV that packs a powerful performance punch – and comes at the price that is difficult to dream; while the S4 Turbocharged SUV offers premium performance specs and additional luxury features on the interior and exterior. Both are exceptional crossover SUVs that come at very attractive price points for the Omani market. Then, the very handsome M4 – Bus and Van 2.0L is a vehicle designed with plenty of interior space, and therefore meets the demands of two key target markets in Oman: The business and entrepreneurial sector, and also the larger-sized families that love being out and about in Oman. The T8 – Pick-up 2.0L Turbo models enable owners to “get more done for an unbelievable price” as we proudly say. Available in 2WD or 4WD Classic or Luxury configurations, this is a pick-up that presents a powerful package for those living and working in the Sultanate’s cities and interiors.
Worldwide, the Coronavirus pandemic has forced automakers to shut down their factories, sending production plummeting to the lowest levels in history. What is the silver lining that TAC and JAC Motors are seeing despite this setback to the world auto industry?
In this new normal, everyone is resetting their lives in their own ways. This in turn means that the buying behaviour would also see a change. Most customers will get more rational and would be attracted to the practically and reliability that JAC vehicles offer – and at an excellent value-for-money price point during this time without compromising quality or features. We have to embrace these changes around us and change the way we function for improving the customer experience of our customers because change is the only constant.
What is the biggest challenge that TAC and JAC Motors are collectively facing at this moment? Globally, industry officials cite limited resources as the main challenge to get assembly lines rolling again as they don’t have the means to provide costly PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) – as just one example – for their workers…
I think the biggest challenges are behind us and we have to move forward to embrace what is in front of us rather than ponder over what we have lost. The government under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik has done a fabulous job of maintaining all health requirements and issuing guidelines from time to time to keep us all safe.
While automakers can get their revenue when their vehicles leave their factories, what about those in the business of selling these vehicles in a market affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Will the output be more than the market demand – and are there risks associated with this?
We are confident that the demand for JAC vehicles in Oman will continue to align with the supply from the manufacturer. In addition, we are confident that as a manufacturer, JAC Motors has the expertise and experience to scale down or scale up their production numbers according to market demand – without the risk of revenue loss.
Post COVID-19, what does the future hold for car sellers in Oman? Are there strategies already being put in place?
The JAC Motors and Towell Auto Centre understand that in a general sense, vehicles remain an absolutely essential part of our lives – they are used for business, family, recreation, and many other day-to-day functions. And this will surely remain the case for many years to come – despite difficult situations like the COVID-19 pandemic. Our collective strategy, moving ahead, is simply to meet the people of Oman’s need for high-quality vehicles that are practical, reliable and affordable – and that come with excellent sales and after sales services. We would see a change in preferences of customers – Crossovers over Sedan, EV over IC engines or for that matter digital medium over traditional ones. We at TAC are ready for what the market and the customers expect from us and we would prove that we are the ‘trusted partners’ for our customers.
How has the period since the onset of COVID-19 been for the auto market in general in Oman, and also for TAC and JAC Motors? And, how have TAC/JAC managed to maintain positive market results despite the situation?
It has been a challenging time, nobody has seen such situations where we were to overcome health and financial risks like never before. I am proud to say that TAC has not hesitated to take tough decisions to ensure safety of all and positive financial results in the near future.
Have TAC and JAC Motors thought about launching electric cars into the market?
As of May 2020, Volkswagen turned another page of business in China, as it initiated plans to increase its share in JAC Volkswagen and collectively conquer the vision of e-mobility and electric cars. JAC Volkswagen’s business is purely focussed on the development, production and sales of all-electric cars, and this joint venture promises to be a historical moment as it aims to build the perfect framework for introducing more electric vehicles and infrastructure. The new investment will intensify the already ongoing electrification strategy. A portfolio expansion of up to five (5) additional BEV models until 2025 is planned, as well as building full-scale e-model factory and finishing the R&D center in Hefei. The partnership between VW and JAC motors has also been an integral part in JACs growth in the consumer vehicle sector as VW has contributed in the design and quality control of a multitude of JAC’s new and existing models.
Towell Auto Centre and JAC Motors are driving Oman into the future
In Oman, JAC Motors, as well as Mazda and Geely, are represented by Towell Auto Centre (TAC). With an extensive network of showrooms, service outlets and parts centres located throughout the country, and a dedication to world-class service for their customers, TAC has established itself as one of the leading automobile distributors in Oman.