The Middle East is famous for its cars. From Bugattis to Ferraris… Porsches to Lamborghinis… Beemers to Mercs… Dune bashing to Drag racing… there’s something for anything with wheels on it. For a region which happens to produce and export the largest chunk in the global oil supply chain, the automobile sector has been going through a steady rise even during the adverse economic climate. Numbers released for Q1 show a steady rise in the luxury automobiles sector, which has had global pundits raising their eye brows. What’s more interesting is the ever increasing rise in websites which specialize in offering car-buying guides in the online space. With the likes of Drivearabia.com websites provide comprehensive car information which is relevant to the entire region. Since the specs of the car stay the same across the GCC, the UAE has maintained the lead in ensuring the availability of rich content on the web. With a relatively more mature market, UAE has also managed to produce websites providing buying guides for the used cars segment as well.
I’m a huge fan of the Tuesday night show on Nightline Dubai 103.8 FM wherein James Piecowye brings in two industry experts from cardata.ae to talk about anything with and under the hood. The best part about Nightline happens to be supplemented with a highly interactive platform of blogs, micro-blogs and podcasts which proves to be an excellent source for people like me. I usually end up missing the show but catch up on the conversation through the blogs or podcasts.
As the consumer base of automobiles gets more and more segmented, so do the questions, and I’ve realized that even static forums such as car buying guides have to evolve. In regions like the Gulf where the car not only has a functional, but also a high emotive value attached to it, you will have consumers with questions about the trim, the colors they’re available in and if they would be able to carry their camping equipment or bikes. It’s not merely about the make, the model and the engine capacity.
A good example is the Range Rover Evoque, which had a lot of social media buzz around the styling of the car, and what role Victoria Beckam had to play in it. So while at one end you had people interested in the horsepower, the drive train and the torque, some others were more concerned about how ‘Posh’ it looked. This was further fueled by an app which enabled users to capture the vibe of their city along with the music, fashion and arts. This was done as an attempt in establishing the car as a fashion statement for one segment, and a crossover for the purists.
It is this myriad of online content that has made car buying a far more informed decision for the users of today as compared to a few years ago. You have sites like Drivearabia.com, automiddleeast.com, amongst others which will spell out the nuts and the bolts, while there are apps from manufacturers like Mercedes, Range rover and Porsche which will help yourselves immerse in the brand and get to know what it would ‘feel’ like to own the car. The choice is yours. Whether you want to watch a short film of Seinfeld telling his kid how wonderful his Porsche is, or a super model asking you to take a ride with her in the latest Mercedes, or the likes of Toyota spelling out how they are changing the world with their hybrid cars being driven by the millionaire start up owners in the silicon valley. Its all a matter of perspective, yet again.