Guillaume Cartier, senior vice president and chairman at Nissan for Africa, Middle East and India, says that the Japanese company has selected countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as one of its main markets for development in the Middle East, indicating that Nissan will continue to benefit from the opportunities there based on the brand's strong presence and share of the market.
Cartier told Asharq Al-Awsat that after Nissan launched its plan for the Middle East, demand in the GCC market reached 30% of what it was last year, pointing out that over the last few months some industries and sectors were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the automotive sector.
Cartier added: "In some markets, the procedures that were taken to fight the virus have been eased, and they are restarting work either entirely or in reduced hours while people go back to some degree of normalcy. Therefore, we expect a positive recovery.
"What's most important is how and when the market will stabilize, and whether it will go back to what it was before COVID-19 and how fast. Other economic factors are important and need to be taken into consideration such as the rise in taxes in Saudi Arabia and the fluctuations in the price of oil."
He also mentioned that Nissan owned a diverse range of products that have been adjusted to meet the expectations of users in Gulf markets, saying, "We are determined to introduce new models that we believe will have a huge success in the region."
Cartier said that the biggest challenge facing the car industry today is the drop in the demand for cars in the short term, indicating that brands need to adjust their fixed prices and adapt to swings in clients' expectations.
Health and safety considerations, according to Cartier, are very important, as clients expect international standards of cleanliness. He said: "We expect this to rise in the coming phase. We are following strict sterilization procedures that include all cars being delivered to clients, and we've worked very closely with our partners in the region to guarantee that they can follow the strict guidelines that include all clients".
Cartier added, "The rising demand for health and safety will affect how consumers view purchasing cars. Many will prefer to move in private and closed environments instead of using public transport. We consider this to be an opportunity to target diverse groups of people through special commercial programs and offering products that provide the highest value for the client's investment".