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Sat 5 Jan 2019 01:34 PM

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2019 Outlook: With technology and transport innovation, the phase of change in the industry will be revolutionary

As we grow into the next stages of mobility, consumers still need great products right now, writes John Roth, President and Managing Director of General Motors Africa and Middle East

2019 Outlook: With technology and transport innovation, the phase of change in the industry will be revolutionary
Future cruise automation is the autonomous driving unit of GM

In 2018, how did you get around? Did you pick up your phone often and hail a ride with only a few clicks? Did you find you went to the petrol station less than previous years as fuel efficiency got even better?

We’re in a moment of technological convergence that is impacting many areas, and the automotive industry is no exception. In fact, the industry is changing at a pace faster than we could first imagine.

For General Motors (GM), our CEO and Chairman Mary Barra has said that the automotive industry will change more in the next five to ten years than the past 50; 2018 has shown that we are already in the midst of that change.

In the past year alone, GM has raised our capacity and announced new developments across the four trends of future mobility, known as autonomous, alternative propulsion and connected and shared vehicles.

We are building on our existing momentum in the market as we see good appetite for future growth

In autonomous, we saw cruise vehicles, of which GM is a majority owner, rack up kilometres in real world settings and had consumers let go of the wheel with Super Cruise hands-free highway driving in the latest Cadillacs. We continued our work with Honda on next-generation alternative propulsion and forged a new partnership for wide-scale deployment of autonomous vehicles. As well, we reached 10 million users for our MAVEN, ride-sharing app, and continued OnStar’s leadership in connectivity.

We see the way people are moving is changing, and know that by investing and building into these areas we can help reach our vision of a future with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. It is a bold ambition, and one that requires us to be adaptive and nimble as we progress from an automotive to a technology company.

Right here in the region, since its introduction at the Dubai International Motor Show in November 2017, audiences have had an overwhelmingly positive response to our fully electric Chevrolet Bolt EV, whether they are public or private entities and individuals. We already have over 80 Chevrolet Bolt EVs zipping around the roads of the UAE, and now the excitement is only growing for the official launch of the 2019 model in January.

We’ve also spent the year working closely with government bodies and entities to pair private sector innovation with regional public-sector transportation planning to support policy, infrastructure and awareness programmes towards more sustainable movement.

In Dubai alone, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has committed to making autonomous vehicles represent 25 percent of Dubai transportation by 2030, involving 5 million daily trips.

We will be watching how consumer adaptability builds up over the coming years

The UAE leadership, led by Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, aims to have half of all energy be renewable by 2050, and across the GCC we see equally determined visions.

As we grow into the next stages of mobility, consumers still need great products right now. In an industry that can face headwinds, General Motors Africa Middle East has continued to perform through its unique and innovative brands. In November alone, we had year-on-year growth in Chevrolet and GMC sales, 16 percent and 25 percent, respectively, and year-on-year increase of 8.6 percent for our parts and aftersales, driven by our ACDelco brand.

Our portfolio across our Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC brands is as diverse as the people who reside here, with sedans like the Malibu a continuous top-seller, and Traverse seeing more than 70 percent growth in sales since 2017 – part of the growing crossover segment.

It’s more exciting than ever to be a part of the automotive industry, and for us heading into 2019 we’re working to not just grow with this evolution, but lead it.


John Roth, President and Managing Director of General Motors Africa and Middle East

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