Partnership with MHD to drive growth in Oman, says Tom Lee, Managing Director, SAIC Motor Middle East

Partnership with MHD to drive growth in Oman: Tom Lee, Managing Director, SAIC Motor Middle East

Tom Lee, Managing Director, SAIC Motor Middle East is confident that its partnership with MHD and the brand proposition of MG will drive growth in Oman 

Please share MG’s plans for Oman and the GCC markets in 2019?

Oman is one of our key markets in the region. We have recently opened our newest MG showroom in the region alongside our partner MHD in Muscat, Oman.

Our plans this year are extraordinary and will take our brand to new levels. We currently have five MG models in the region: the MG GS, which is the first MG SUV to launch in the Middle East, the brand new sporty MG6 sedan, the bold MG RX5 SUV, the stylish MG ZS crossover, and the extremely popular MG 360. We are proudly announcing that we are introducing three brand new models to our already existing lineup before the end of 2019; that is the stylish and completely newly-designed MG HS, which will work as a replacement to the already existing MG GS, the anticipated MG5 compact sedan, and the first ever MG 7-seater MG RX8 SUV.

What are the car launches that customers can look forward to from MG this year?

The MG 5, MG RX 8 and MG HS, are totally new from the ground up and will appeal to new audiences as they take the brand into a new segment for the first time.

MG’s first ever entrant into the large SUV sector, the 7-seat MG RX 8 appeals to Middle East 4×4 customers looking to stand out from the crowd. Taller, longer and wider than some of its Japanese competitors. The MG RX 8 offers a premium interior that benefits from the largest third row space in the segment, as well six different driving modes to provide a truly professional off-road capability.

The MG 5 will ensure that buyers no longer have to compromise when choosing a new car. The sporty looking MG 5 will be offered with an efficient 1.5L petrol engine and an impressive level of hi-tech features, including rear view camera, 10.1-inch touch screen, push button start and a 360o surround-view camera for ultimate safety.

The MG HS will be the company’s new offering in the mid-size SUV sector which will replace the MG GS. The MG HS will be the brand’s most stylish SUV, incorporating the latest MG design language and futuristic features including lane departure warning, blind spot detection, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a 10-inch touchscreen display.

How has MG’s performance been in the GCC and Oman in 2018?

Despite the challenging market conditions, MG enjoyed a great 2018 in the Middle East with a significant 453 per cent growth in sales across the entire region. With a network of dedicated retail partners across the Gulf region, boasting 21 modern showrooms and 21 service centres, the brand is rapidly expanding its presence.

Oman has also seen strong acceptance of the brand and shown a significate growth and is expanding its presence. Mohsin Haider Darwish LLC has opened up four outlets of MG at Azaiba, Wattayah, Sohar and Salalah. It is also looking at expanding the network to other cities of sultanate in coming year.

The MG6 was launched recently in Oman, what differentiates this model from others in the same category? 

The new 2019 MG6 model is upgraded with a range of premium and sporty features while still delivering performance, efficiency and class-leading comfort. With quality design features normally found on luxury brands, the MG6 has a new ‘Star Rider’ grill, carbon fibre detailing and LED headlamps with progressive indicators. A large ‘MG’ badge, chrome touches and a twin-exhaust give the MG6 an aggressive stance that cannot be found in other models within its category.

This generation takes the quality and styling of our vehicle to a new level by providing features customers expect to find on premium automotive brands which sets the MG6 apart from its competitors.

Customers are getting conscious about the impact on the environment and fuel economy. What progress has SAIC made in this direction?

SAIC Motor is at the forefront of global technological innovation, delivering significant achievements in a number of areas related to the development of the cars of the future. New-energy cars, connected vehicles and automated driving are all key areas of focus for us. Earlier this year, SAIC Motor secured China’s first autonomous vehicle road-test licence ahead of starting mass production later this year.

The advent of electrified models is also no longer a novelty. Electric/hybrid vehicles have certainly been a core focus for SAIC Motor and MG Motor over recent years and will continue to be so over the coming years.

Over recent years, the rejuvenated brand has made important breakthroughs in relation to the development of Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV), Pure Electric Power and Fuel Cells and continues to invest heavily in these important fields.

The development of eye-catching concept cars such as the MG E-Motion all-electric supercar – pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology – and the MG X-Motion SUV, which was unveiled earlier this year featuring an electric powertrain, are a testament to the brand’s commitment to being a global leader in providing alternative fuel models.

We have two production models – ERX5 and eRX5 hybrid – are under consideration for GCC markets, and we have tested the eRX5 hybrid in extreme weather conditions here in the Middle East last summer. I am pleased to confirm that the eRX5 performed exceptionally well in all aspects of its testing, especially air conditioning, performance and fuel efficiency.

What strength does MG derive as a part of the SAIC group?

Since its acquisition of MG Motor, SAIC MOTOR has opened a new chapter for this British-born car company.  We have a rich heritage behind the brand and some fascinating stories to tell; MG Motor was established in 1924 and has been known throughout its 94-year history for its historic models, awards and achievements. MG was founded by William Morris and Cecil Kimbers and has the oldest car club in the automotive industry, whilst its best known for its two-seat open sports cars, MG has also produced some historic saloons and coupes.

Today, the brand is still going strong and is producing contemporary and stylish cars to cater for modern motorists.

We are really making our presence felt in the automotive industry on a global level. Our parent company, SAIC Motor has manufacturing bases in Thailand, India and Indonesia, as well as R&D and innovation centers in Birmingham (UK), California and Tel Aviv. In 2018, SAIC Motor’s overseas sales reached more than 270,000 units – up 62.5% year-on-year – and continues to take the first position in China for the third consecutive year.

A further point that recently reinforced our position was the announcement that SAIC Motor has climbed to its highest ever position in the prestigious Fortune Global 500 list, ahead of brands such as BMW and Hyundai. This achievement is a testament to the success of the company globally.

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