In recent history, the norm has been aspiring to individual car ownership and upgrading your vehicle every few years to have the latest tech advancements. Today’s vehicles are even more impressive. As General Motors Africa & Middle East, we turned more than a few heads at the Dubai International Motor Show in November with the sophisticated and technologically-led 2020 Cadillac CT5, the hotly anticipated 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the versatile and capable 2020 GMC Acadia AT4 as well as many more.  

Mobility, however, as a whole is quickly shifting focus and vehicle ‘ownership’ is becoming a changing concept. Sooner than you may think, our daily lives could be a world of fully connected autonomous vehicles that provide trips tailored to every customer’s needs while constantly ‘talking’ to the city they’re driving through. This would mean every journey is seamless – with the conversation you’re having merging smoothly from your phone to the vehicle – and traffic moves easily without delays. 

At GM, we see this not just as science fiction but a possible vision of a future with Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion. On the road to this future, we’re already seeing certain trends changing, from the rise of ride-hailing and last mile solutions like electric bikes. While there’s also much change ahead in the way people and goods move, one that remains key is customer experience. 

When taking ownership of a vehicle, customers need to know that they will be continuously supported and looked after even once they drive out of the dealership. A need that will only intensify when customers are making a switch to newer technology.

Our ability to support customers across the lifecycle of ownership is something we pride ourselves on at General Motors and, in the region, we bring a position of strength through our legacy of over 90 years and our work across countries with our longstanding dealer partners. 

In fact, this year Cadillac and GMC led in the J.D. Power 2019 UAE Customer Service Index (CSI) Study™ for the luxury and mass market segments, respectively, for dealer and after-sales excellence. This couldn’t have been achieved without our strong partnerships in the UAE with Al Ghandi Auto and Bin Hamoodah Auto and our commitment to keep customers at the very heart of everything we do.

This is achieved by bringing our service closer to every customer, we are located in every major city and hub town with 95 rooftops in Saudi Arabia and 35 rooftops in the UAE.  This presence means we have a solid network supporting customers at all times – from the first showroom visit and through a lifetime of ownership.

As the requirements of a vehicle or mode of transport change, however, so does how that support is given. While physical presence will remain crucial for the foreseeable future, providing the best in customer experience includes ensuring easily accessible information and product interaction, in the form of the virtual showroom, and online purchasing processes, like with our own introduction of Chevrolet’s Shop.Click.Drive.

At the same time, the vehicle itself today needs the ability to function at a higher technological capability. That’s why this year GM introduced our all-new digital platform – a new technology architecture that is capable of managing greater data processing and rapid communications in and outside of the vehicle. The new platform will be in the first-ever Cadillac CT5, coming to the Middle East in 2020, and across all GM vehicles by 2023. That means over-the-air updates for a new calibration or updated mapping on a road. 

Greater connectivity across vehicles also provides new levels of ownership experience and support on the road. GM’s pioneering in-vehicle platform, OnStar, represents the best blend of cutting-edge technology and human sensitivity. Standing out from competition, OnStar operates a dedicated call center, so drivers can reach an advisor through the connected tech in their car, whatever the circumstance. 

We were thrilled to announce for customers that OnStar will be coming to the Middle East, starting with the UAE, across new Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac vehicles in 2020. From understanding your oil life and checking on brake performance with vehicle diagnostic features or seeing how your teen driver performs on the road with driving reports through brand connectivity features, OnStar helps all drivers and owners feel more connected & protected than ever before. 

With new technologies or engineering achievements happening nearly every day, bringing the necessary awareness and engagement with consumers for these enablers of future mobility is crucial. That means addressing key barriers and driving educational opportunities around technologies like electric vehicles (EVs) or fully autonomous rides. 

Many fears are held around EVs, but the largest concern is around range. As GM, we’ve worked to provide a game-changer in EVs to date: the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Performance-driven, spacious and able to get up to 565KM in a single charge on the latest 2020 model. That’s providing essentially a week of commuting without having to “fuel up”.  we also need to address consumer concerns around electric and eventually autonomous vehicles to assure customers that the new wave of technology will work within their current lifestyle. 

We also aren’t stopping there. GM just announced a joint venture (JV) with LG Chem to mass-produce battery cells for future battery-electric vehicles. This opportunity will allow us to transform the industry by driving battery systems cost as well as house some of the most advanced manufacturing processes all under one roof to produce cells efficiently.

Going beyond product, we are educating consumers at grass roots level, giving them face time with the product and in-depth discussions on the technology to raise awareness. At the Ripe Market, the Chevrolet Bolt EV took center stage with trained hosts to educate market-goers about its green credentials, followed by a test drive to give a firsthand experience of driving electric. The Bolt EV was also recently added to Sustainable City’s shared fleet, which is available for residents to use around the compound.

This doesn’t just apply to electric vehicles. Consumer adoption for the next stages of mobility, whether a self-driving car or cars “speaking” to each other on the road, will only grow with further incentives, education and access to these technologies. This is why we’re working with government and private sector entities to grow awareness and preference today, and ensure the right infrastructure and legislation is in place for the next innovations tomorrow.

We are all together in this transportation transformation. As we at GM work across the different platforms that will bring the future of mobility, we will always remain committed to putting our customers at the center. Ensuring we’re bringing value and exceptional experiences for every journey, today and in the years ahead.