Speaking to Salman Sultan, Regional PR and Social Media Manager, Jaguar-Land Rover

Here’s an interview I did as part of research for an article published in The National newspaper Abu Dhabi. I was only able to use a small bit of it for the piece, but it’s an interesting conversation, so here’s the full copy!

Q. How has the I-Pace been received in the region?

The MENA region is renowned for its early adopters. People here have shown a lot of interest in electric vehicles in past years, and we’ve made it a priority to keep up with the needs, expectations, and requirements of our customers. The all-electric I-Pace is the next example of this commitment.

The model is currently available to order in three MENA markets: Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine and will be available in the remaining MENA markets in the coming months. We cannot discuss order volumes, but we have experienced a great level of interest in the I-PACE so far, and we only anticipate this interest to grow as markets continue to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.

The UAE for example has a clear vision for a sustainable future, and electric vehicles play a key role in it. In Dubai, both private and public sectors have shown a solid commitment to helping reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 16 percent by 2021, and for the automotive sector, the government has already started developing the infrastructure to support electric vehicles. DEWA has successfully installed 200 electric charging stations in selected public areas, while the government has invested heavily in incentives to have 42,000 electric vehicles on its streets by 2030.

Jordan is another great example of how countries in the region are promoting electric vehicles, not only exempting purchases of electric vehicles from various taxes and fees, but also launching a programme to develop a solar-powered electric vehicle charging network composed of 3,000 different stations.

In light of these developments, we are confident that Jaguar I-PACE’s arrival in the region is a game changer.

Q. What kind of customer buys the Jaguar I-Pace?

It is slightly too early for us to talk about specific demographics for our region as the I-Pace only recently launched in three regional markets.

However, in terms of customers’ knowledge about the product, Jaguar has made sure the transition to I-Pace ownership is effortless. Interested customers can talk to a Jaguar sales representative to understand if the I-Pace is right for them. And, owning the Jaguar I-Pace is now easier than ever before thanks to a couple of helpful tools that educate potential buyers on use and cost, such as the new online range calculator.

Q. Are buyers existing Jaguar customers or new comers to the brand?

It is too early to tell for the MENA region, but we do expect a healthy mix of new customers and existing fans of the brand, given the growing trend towards electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles among motorists. We are confident that the Jaguar I-Pace, being such a ground-breaking model, will continue to bring new customers to the brand.

Q. Based on the experience of launching an all-electric car in the region – how has the market evolved in terms of its interest in and receptiveness of electric cars?

I do believe that electric vehicles are the future of the automotive industry, and the market is evolving in this direction.

However, there are a number of challenges that we need to overcome before people will be fully prepared to embrace electric vehicles. For instance, there is a lack of clarity on vehicle range and as a result, what the industry calls “range anxiety”. This causes drivers to be reluctant to buy electric vehicles out of fear they might lose all power mid-journey and be stranded. Despite advancements in the field of electrification, there’s still a need to increase awareness on the reality of electric vehicle ownership and why range anxiety shouldn’t be a concern.

One other challenge is the lack of charging infrastructure for those who live in high-rise buildings. A solution is to incentivise motorists by reducing the price of purchasing and installing a private charging point. Until this happens, the challenge could persist for a large section of customers.

Q. Will you be introducing more electric cars onto the market?

We cannot comment on future product plans, but what I can tell you is that Jaguar Land Rover is embracing the new world of electrification and we in the Middle East are focused on delivering against the brand’s global vision. The electric transition has been one of the greatest technological shifts in the history of Jaguar Land Rover and is starting to gain real momentum. However, with electrification growing in importance, we still remain committed to constantly refining design and performance across our entire portfolio.

From 2020, every new Jaguar or Land Rover will have the option of electrification, whether we are talking about vehicles that are fully electric, plug-in hybrid, or mild hybrid vehicles, depending on the specific market you are in. The mild hybrid powertrain is already available on several models in specific MENA markets.

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