Exclusive Interview With Mr. Tom Lee

Managing Director of SAIC Motor Middle East

  • Publish date: Thursday، 18 March 2021 Last update: Tuesday، 12 October 2021
Exclusive Interview With Mr. Tom Lee
Related articles
Exclusive Interview With The First Female Emirati Aviation Engineer
This Is Not a F*cking Street Style Interview with Adam Katz Sinding
Catalonia, an exclusive and indulgent destination

We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Tom Lee, Managing Director of SAIC Motor Middle East to tell us more about the strategy of SAIC Motor Middle East

1. Would you begin by telling us a little about yourself and your career background? 

In July 2017, I was appointed Managing Director of SAIC Motor in the MENA region, with a specific responsibility for looking after the MG Motor brand. Prior to joining the MG team, I had worked with Hyundai as the Managing Director for their Middle East and North Africa marlet. I attained my Master’s degree from George Washington University in the United States of America and now have more than 30 years experience in the automotive industry, handling different sales functions in various markets such as the United States of America, South America, Asia and the Middle East. Through my varied experience, I have learnt what it takes to deliver growth and break sales records, and I am very optimistic and confident about the future of the MG brand.

2. MG is a newcomer in the UAE market. Has that been an advantage, or a disadvantage compared to more established players here?

MG has been in the GCC and Middle East market for over five years now. However, this British-born brand was already relatively well known to customers and auto lovers due to its popular history and award-winning classic cars. And while our presence in the Middle East may appear relatively new compared to more established automotive brands, I am very excited about the proposition that MG Motor has to offer for its customers in the Middle East.

We are constantly working on providing the highest quality experiences for our customers and the brand is focused on offering the best possible services, products and technology, all at great value for money. In addition to that, we are constantly working on enhancing our distributor network and have reinforced a new Dealer Development function to oversee the quality and expansion of our current dealer network. We currently have 33 dedicated MG retail sites and 33 service centres and are planning on further growth across the Middle East and North Africa.

Exclusive Interview With Mr. Tom Lee

3. In your opinion, what is the value MG is bringing to the region? Where do you position your product in the market? And who do you see as your main competitors in the region? 

We have been working very closely with our distributors in the region to provide customers with an exceptional brand experience from our range of products & we co-exist in a market full of well-established automotive brands. We have an award-winning car line-up that has taken the region by storm, with its value for money, great styling and exceptionally advanced state-of-the-art technology.

The MG range includes our 2020 ‘Middle East Car of the Year’, the all-new MG HS. This SUV has been designed to put the ''sport'' back into SUV and reminisce about the racing heritage of the historic MG brand. Also available is the Middle East's ‘Best Sub-compact Sedan’, the new MG5, which has been completely re-designed from the ground-up to appeal to MG's young customers. The new 2021 MG ZS Turbo, the all-new MG RX8 seven-seater SUV, the stylish MG6 compact sedan, the MG RX5 SUV and MG’s first zero-emissions vehicle, the MG ZS EV, also from our increasingly popular line-up.

We are very proud to offer a best-in-region manufacturer warranty of 6 years or 200,000 km, which delivers the peace-of-mind that customers seek when buying an MG car. We also offer high standards of aftersales service. As an example, our 8,000 m2 warehouse facility in Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone operates at a spare parts supply rate of 96 percent, ensuring rapid turnaround times when it comes to servicing our customers across the region.

4. Let’s get to the details. What are the main benefits your models offer to customers in comparison to other brands that are available in the market? 

As I have mentioned, there are several key factors behind MG’s success. Firstly, the quality of our ever-expanding product range; Secondly, the quality and support of our dealer network, which has been completely revitalized over the past couple of years. And thirdly, the quality of the MG ownership experience, which includes the region’s best new car warranty, the highest standards of customer service and a hi-tech regional distribution centre that ensures rapid delivery of parts when required.

MG offers a fresh choice to our young buyers, away from the conventional brands. We have exciting plans for the coming years, and you will see even better products with advanced tech features, an increase in the size of our network and even higher standards of the services we have to offer. Our number one priority is to ensure our customers attain a high level of satisfaction and comfort no matter which MG model they are driving and no matter where they are in the Middle East region.

5. Congratulations! You have announced last month that “MG smashes sales records in 2020 to enter the GCC top ten of car manufacturers for the first time” What was your strategy to achieve this success? 

The British-born brand has been known to pushing boundaries ever since its foundation in 1924. The brand’s innovative technology, sleek designs and value for money products played a significant role in setting it apart from its competitors in the region. Our strategy was to not only provide a holistic brand experience, but to also reflect on the modern, newly refreshed as well as adventurous content in a modern way that speaks purely to our millennial and tech-savvy customers.

To be part of the GCC’s top ten car manufacturers, we wanted to offer our customers the best most advanced quality in our ever-expanding product range with a unique 6-year/200,000 km manufacturer warranty and through our high standards of services and offers.

In addition to all the above, our brand has a global digital partnership with Liverpool Football Club and a local partnership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the Al Ahli Football Club. The football sponsorships we have signed on a global and a local level have a great impact on generating public awareness about our products as well as strengthening our emotional connection with the players as well as their fans.

6. How do you see the company changing in the coming years? How do you see MG under your mandate creating the change? 

Looking at 2021, we are confident that our customers will be excited by the introduction of new models with (PHEV) Plug-in hybrid technology. We will also be bringing 5G Internet-connected technology to the region. This smart feature is testament to our commitment to offering innovative and practical elements in our cars for our customers.

On the network front, we will be looking to simultaneously strengthen our current offering, in collaboration with our fantastic local retail partners, while also expanding into new markets.

Finally, we will continue to strengthen our product line up in the compact sedan and mid-size SUV segments, bringing affordable yet technologically advanced models to the region for our customers who are looking for premium features representing value for money.

7. When we buy a car, our main concern is the warranty, tell us more about the car manufacturer warranty you offer for new car buyers.

Indeed, customers are always on the lookout for the best possible warranty that will put their mind at ease. Our team is adamant to continuously provide the best possible service there is; as a result, we are the only brand in the region to provide a 6 year manufacturer warranty or 200,000km *whichever comes first.

In addition to that, we offer our customers across the Middle East an exclusive Door to Door service to ensure their minds are put at ease. This service offers our customers the satisfaction, convenience, and value for time they deserve especially during these challenging times.

8. Green economy, environmental sustainability, and power efficiency. This has been a top priority for many governmental and private transportation projects in the UAE. What progress has SAIC made in this direction? (innovation and investment)

Now more than ever, we are seeing a shift from car manufacturers as they align their vision towards sustainability and future mobility. At the end of 2019, we launched our first-ever all-electric SUV, the MG ZS EV in a number of countries in the GCC. This stylish, compact SUV embodies MG’s ambitious plans to become a global market leader in the sales of new energy vehicles. The MG ZS has been a very successful model in our line-up because of its appealing design and long list of features, and there has been a lot of positive feedback and interest shown in the new electric variant.

In 2021, we are looking forward to introducing SUV and Sedan (PHEV) Plug-in hybrid cars as part of our vision for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future. Our current and new customers are increasingly well educated on this subject, the infrastructure is getting better, and most Governments are now pushing and encouraging the use of clean energy. The future for electric vehicles is looking bright, and we are ready at MG to offer our customers a range of new energy vehicles.