Special Report: Qatar Automobiles Company
QAC continues to grow its light duty truck market share
Established back in 1970 by late Sheikh Nasser Bin Khalid Al Thani, Qatar Automobiles Company (QAC) is the authorised distributor for Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Fuso Trucks & Buses. It is a subsidiary of NBK Holding, which enjoys more than 70 years’ experience in Qatar within the automotive business and general trade.
Ihab El Feky, general manager at QAC, assures that the company is considered one of the fastest growing companies in the automotive segment within the entire GCC region: “Over the past three years we have shown major growth and market share increase. We focus on offering a competitive product, services at premium level and a general parts network – of course at very competitive prices,” he says.
El Feky describes that the company’s performance has won it numerous awards and accolades: “QAC’s growth has resulted in us earning a number of awards from Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and Mitsubishi Fuso. For three consecutive years we have been awarded the excellent sales growth award by Mitsubishi Motors, ranking among top three global distributors for YOY sales growth. We earned the global aftersales award of excellence in 2014 from MMC and we have been ranked third world-wide for Mitsubishi Fuso in Customer Service – and also for Fuso, we have the highest market share, for light duty trucks (Canter) with over 73% market share in Qatar.
“We are very proud of our sales and after sales networks, and we see ourselves among the best when it comes to the auto segment,” he expands.
Looking at the recent past, the market grew really fast in 2013 and 2014 and, while in 2015 there was noteworthy growth, some decline was witnessed across the whole automotive sector, with the total automotive market dropping by 30% in 2016. The GCC witnessed a similar decline.
“However, over the past three to four years we have consistently done better than the market, growing faster in sales, and even when it declined we remained strong as we declined less than the market. This is in line with our aim to grow our market share, which continues to grow despite general market decline,” El Feky adds.
“Even in the present lull, our market share is growing in the light duty trucks and light buses segment. We have a solid customer data base and QAC is considered an important pillar in NBK group.”
By way of total sales in 2015 the company sold 2,000 Fuso units and have a current car park for Qatar of more than 17,000 units (FUSO).
While there have been no new models launched there have however been new regulations put in place around safety.
Come 2017, Gulf Standardisation Organisation (GSO) will be implemented. This entails enhancing safety features in all new models that fall into manufacturing year 2017. Included in this will be standardised ABS and airbags in all passenger vehicles. In the commercial sector, jump-seats will no longer be fitted on buses and safety belts will have to have a three-point fastening system.
“This will create competition within the market because, for example,” Hisham El Sahn, sales director says, “the number of seats in a bus will decrease. With GSO there will also be safety cages installed on the buses, making the body more rigid and safer,” he adds. The changes however, may open new opportunities for new products to enter the market and while the manufacturers might design new models, El Feky expects to see some changes to the current configurations.
Ewen Baxter, aftersales director, highlights that GSO implementation will have no impact on any current vehicles. “There may well be ‘specials’ available down the line as the buses without the GSO specifications may become sought after as they will have more seats available,” he suggests.
QAC has several Mitsubishi Motors & Mitsubishi Fuso parts and service centres across Qatar, in addition to the main after sales facility in Industrial Area St. 10, with centres in Al Wakra, Abu Hamour, and Al Duhail. QAC is planning to open a complete 3S (showroom, service, and spare parts) facility in Al Khor which should be operational by Q1 2017.
“This is indication of our commitment to best serve our clients with after sales service, not just selling vehicles. We focus on meeting and exceeding the customer’s expectation in terms of services, products, after sales and financial services,” El Feky expands.
John Mathai, finance director, explains that banks are less inclined to offer financing, but as a large group, Nasser Bin Khaled offers in-house financing, a significant differentiator in the market. “Banks and financial institutions are very rigid when it comes to offering financing facilities to customers. We have internal financing (for QAC as well as the entire NBK Group) and even those customers which are finding it difficult to find financing, we take on that risk – within reason,” he says.
He continues: “The in-house facility supports us on the leasing, on the finance instalment and also the buy-back offers; we are therefore in a position to tailor the solution for the customer.”
QAC also focuses on offering a complete solution says the GM: “We are not specific to small, medium or big vehicles, we have a complete mix of passenger, SUVs and commercial vehicles. We have included Ziebart, an American car-care line as well as Liderkit, a Spanish body building supplier. We see Liderkit as supplying solutions for the commercial segment,” he adds.
An additional differentiator is the launch of a new leasing facility with application. “This matches the requirement of the market and once again meets the expectation of the customer. We feel that this a unique selling point and are the leaders in providing this service, in the mid to long-term. Most companies in Qatar look rather at the leasing option, specifically the government, in an effort to avoid adding assets to the books,” El Feky stresses.
The company is planning for the future and El Feky explains: “What we are seeing is that although the market is slowing there is a demand for some projects and we are turning the downturn into opportunities. We expect to see an improvement by H2 2017, so during this time we are developing our after sales network, renovating and improving our entire facilities and in Street 18 we have a new body shop, with a space of 6000m² that will cater to all QAC brands – and we are preparing for the new 3S facility in Al Khor.”
Commenting, Baxter says: “Even during the downtime we are investing for the future; we are adding to customer services, making sure that the customers have added-value, putting in place an after sales person who will interface directly with the customer, assessing needs and offering solutions.”
In conclusion the general manager says: “The customer’s voice helps us to build the future and guides us when planning the next wave.”