Dubai, UAE: Automechanika Dubai 2016, the Middle East and Africa’s largest automotive aftermarket exhibition concluded, wrapping up three days of busy networking in a diverse market that remains on the radar of the world’s biggest suppliers of auto parts and services.
The 14th edition of the annual showcase, which took place from 8-10 May 2016 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, featured 2,017 exhibitors from 58 countries, and attracted 30,018 visitors from 119 countries.
The strong turnout from the international trade reinforces the decision by leading global players to continue investing in the Middle East and Africa, as they showcased their innovative automotive technologies across six product groups of Parts & Components; Electronics & Systems; Repair & Maintenance; Tyres & Batteries; Accessories & Tuning; and Service Station & Car Wash.
The largest two sections, Parts & Components, and Electronics & Systems, featured 1,408 exhibitors, a six per cent growth over the previous edition. Meritor, the world’s largest independent manufacturer of axles for the heavy duty industry, was one of the headline exhibitors.
Exhibiting for the second time at Automechanika Dubai, the American-headquartered Fortune 500 company views the Middle East and African automotive aftermarket as one of its key growth markets.
“The Middle East and Africa is one of core strategic topics for the next three years, so this is really a very important market,” said Janusz Zielinski, Sales Director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Meritor.
“We started business here around three years ago and we’ve selected local spare parts distributors, but this is still under development. We’ve just started and we need to be more active here.
“We’re showing that we’re coming from the OE (Original Equipment) side; we’re not just a spare parts manufacturer. It’s important to communicate that our products are of OE quality, because what we sell to the OE is the same as what we sell to the aftermarket.
Zielinski added: “What’s interesting at Automechanika Dubai is the diversity of visitors, and even though we’re a late-comer to the region, everyone knows our brand, and that we’re an aftermarket specialist.”
At the forefront of the 118 Repair & Maintenance exhibitors was Caltex, the show’s Gold Sponsor and Official Lubricant Partner. Exhibiting for the first time at Automechanika Dubai, Caltex was showcasing its Havoline lubricant range for passenger vehicles, Delo (Diesel Lubricating Oil) for commercial vehicles, and its Techron fuel system cleaner.
Adriaan de Kok, Area Business Manager for the Gulf and Middle East at Caltex’s parent company, Chevron Lubricants, spoke of the region-wide transition into demanding cleaner, more efficient, and better quality lubricants that are aligned with international standards.
“The standards and vehicle requirements are rapidly advancing, and the demands on today’s engine are not what they were ten years ago,” said de Kok. “We’re seeing an adoption of really high standards by regional Governments, and an aspiration to be responsible when it comes to environmental criteria, engine protection, and fuel economy.”
“Our vested interest is in consumer education and making sure that the aftermarket trade understands the benefit in our products to the end customers. And ultimately this leads to the Gulf’s aspirations of a cleaner, safer environment.
Meanwhile, stealing the spotlight from the 191 exhibitors in the Accessories & Tuning section was Japanese company Kuhl Racing, which launched its fully customised gold-coloured Nissan R35 GT-R.
The unique golden sheen was hand painted and engraved with intricate patterns by master engraver Takahiko Izawa. The dazzling car, which comes with a 3.8 litre V6 twin turbo 545 hp engine, had a special Automechanika Dubai price tag of US$750,000.
Kazuyo Furusho, Kuhl Racing’s representative at Automechanika Dubai, said the show-stopping sports car had already attracted the interest of buyers in a region that loves gilty pleasures.
“The reaction from visitors at Automechanika Dubai has been amazing, and everyone thinks it’s real gold, or wrapped with golden paper,” said Furusho, who added the whole customisation process took six months to complete, and includes enhanced aerodynamic features, a reinforced body and precision handling. “So far we’ve had interest from buyers in Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. It’s not a car for everyday use. It’s exclusive and unique, and buyers here like this type of thing.”
With 232 exhibitors, Tyres & Batteries was the fastest growing section at Automechanika Dubai 2016, having grown by 21 per cent over the previous year. UAE-based Al Dobowi, the section’s stalwart, returned in 2016 with the announcement of the opening of the Middle East’s largest battery manufacturing plant.
“Our new battery plant in Techno Park in Dubai will open in September this year, and will have the capacity to produce 1.2 million car batteries every year,” said Surender Kandhari, the Chairman of Al Dobowi. “We’ve partnered with Exide, one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of batteries. Now Exide batteries will be proudly made in the UAE, and distributed throughout the Middle East and Africa.”
Organised by Messe Frankfurt Middle East, Automechanika Dubai featured 25 country pavilions, and 38 international trade associations. Spanning 70,000sqm across 15 halls, the showpiece event grew eight per cent year-on-year in both exhibitor numbers and exhibition space.
The 15th edition will take place from 7-9 May 2017. More information is available at: www.automechanikaDubai.com.