Dubai: Premium carmaker Aston Martin targets sales of 400 to 500 cars in the Middle East, the company's CEO Ulrich Bez told Gulf News in an interview at the Dubai Motor Show yesterday.
"We have experienced very strong growth in the Middle East," Bez said. Since 2000, when the British carbuilder sold only 15 cars in the region, sales grew to 150 in 2009. With the new model line-up including the four-door Rapide, Bez is targeting sales of 400 to 500 cars in the medium term.
Asked about a possible drawback in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Bez said that "luxury goods are always in demand," and the company has not noticed weaker demand in the region, except in the UAE, which "has not performed as it could have been as it is our most important market in the region." Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are other sales spots for Aston Martin, while Qatar "has developed very well", Bez said.
The company now has started talks about a possible restructuring of its distribution network in the region, Bez said. "I cannot say anything about it at this point in time, since we are at the very beginning of talks," he added. Aston Martin's distributor in the UAE is Al Habtoor Motors.
Bez also denied rumours that Investment Dar, a Kuwaiti financial group and part owner of Aston Martin, may sell its stake in the carmaker.
"These rumours are rubbish. There are no indications for them. Investment Dar has given its full commitment for a long-term engagement with Aston Martin. Anything else is wrong," Bez said.
The investment firm said in May it had defaulted on a $100 million (Dh367 million) sukuk. At the beginning of December it said it has reached a deal with creditors to restructure about $3.5 billion of debt over five years.
Aston Martin is showcasing its new four-door model Rapide at the Dubai Motor Show. The manufacturing of the car has been outsourced in a contract deal to Austria's Magna Steyr, where 2,000 models a year are scheduled to come off the assembly line.
The base version of the car will cost about $200,000, the company has announced. It is competing with other four-door luxury vehicles like the Maserati Quattroporte and the Porsche Panamera.
Aston Martin's splendid V8 Vantage, which comes in coupe and roadster models, will get a slight facelift for the 2010 version and engine emissions will be reduced.