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Stellantis eyes expanding product range in Saudi Arabia, CEO says

Dutch-based automobile manufacturing corporation Stellantis is planning to expand its product range in Saudi Arabia by introducing smart cars and light commercial vehicles into the market, an official has revealed.

In an interview with Arab News, Samir Cherfan, chief operating officer of Stellantis in the Middle East and Africa, said that the company’s Dare Forward 2030 plan aims to turn the automaker into a mobility tech company.

“Our approach in the Kingdom is multifaceted – and includes driving increased market share by expanding across brands and segments. This will be driven by introducing and expanding models including smart cars and light commercial vehicles under our Fiat, Citroen and Peugeot brands,” said Cherfan.

He added: “Moreover, Jeep is set to grow by reaching customers in new market segments while Ram will strengthen its position in the full-size pickup segment.”

Cherfan noted that Stellantis’ strategy in the Kingdom is aligned with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 objectives.

He added that the company is committed to support Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification efforts and ongoing technological progress.

“By expanding our product range while improving efficiency and adopting new sustainable technologies, we aim not just for market dominance but also to support economic diversification and technological progress in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Sustainability in focus

During the talk, the COO said that Stellantis’ move to reintroduce the Citroen brand in 2022 was to meet the rising demand for electric vehicles in the Saudi market, as the younger population in the Kingdom are giving priority to sustainability.

“In the Kingdom, Citroën offers a diverse range of vehicles that cater to young buyers – particularly in urban centers like Riyadh and Jeddah – including the growing number of women drivers,” said Cherfan.

He continued: “These younger demographics are typically looking for more sustainable, smaller, smarter models. As EVs produce zero emissions and zero noise, this in turn aligns with Vision 2030 objectives to enhance quality of life and reduce the Kingdom’s carbon footprint.”

According to Cherfan, Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification efforts aimed at reducing the Kingdom’s dependency on oil is also reshaping the automotive market in the country.

He added that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund’s strategic investments in various sectors are also helping companies like Stellantis invest in the Kingdom.

“As the Kingdom is looking toward its post-oil economy and becoming more competitive internationally, this change is affecting the automotive market too. With the Public Investment Fund supporting the growth of the Kingdom’s economy by investing in different sectors, this opens doors for companies like Stellantis to invest and grow our business,” said Cherfan.

He added: “At Stellantis, we have a goal to increase our sales in Saudi Arabia and we believe that the Kingdom is a key to our plan to supply 90 percent of the cars and parts needed in the Middle East and Africa from within the region.”

The COO went on to say the company is planning to introduce new EV models in Saudi Arabia soon, as it eyes to grab 30 percent of this market by the end of this decade.

“When it comes to electrification, we are engaged with our Saudi Arabian partners with the objective of incorporating EV models or establishing dedicated EV brands within our product portfolios. Our aim is to have a 30 percent EV share by 2030 as set out in our Dare Forward Strategy,” he continued.

Encouraging local talents in the automotive industry

According to Cherfan, the automotive industry is an employment generator and is expected to grow at a double-digit rate till 2030 in Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom is embarking to ensure clean and autonomous mobility.

The official noted that the company currently has 12,000 employees in the Middle East and Africa region and among them only 20 are expats.

“In the Kingdom, through Stellantis and our distributor partners, we have over thousands of people working across different departments and under multiple brands, and we expect to continue to grow that number as our brands increase their market share,” said Cherfan.

He added that Stellantis aims to position itself as the most localized player in the region.

“We position ourselves as the partner in the country to maximize value creation. We have programs with universities, we have created dedicated training programs to upskill local talent. And with 1.2 billion people in our region, there is a lot of brilliant talent to be further developed,” continued Cherfan.

The company is aiming to achieve 70 percent regional production autonomy by 2030, representing a significant leap from its current level of 25 percent.

The COO said Stellantis aims to sell one million vehicles in the region by 2030, out of which 35 percent will be electric.

Strategic partnership with private and government entities

Cherfan further said that Stellantis’ strategy involves collaborating closely with local businesses, government entities and other stakeholders.

He pointed out that leveraging partnerships with local businesses is necessary to understand the market in Saudi Arabia, while collaborations with government entities is essential to navigate through regulatory frameworks.

“By working hand in hand with local companies, we can tailor our products and services to better meet the needs and expectations of Saudi consumers. Additionally, partnering with local businesses provides opportunities for technology transfer, skill development, and job creation, thereby contributing to the growth of the Saudi economy,” he noted.

Cherfan added: “By partnering with government agencies, we can ensure that our activities are in line with Saudi Arabia’s vision for economic diversification, sustainability, and innovation.”

He noted that government partnerships will also facilitate access to infrastructure and support programs, enabling the company to accelerate its growth and expansion efforts in the Kingdom.

Cherfan also underscored the vitality of collaborating with stakeholders like academic institutions, research centers and industry associations.

“Collaborating with these entities allows us to use cutting-edge research, innovation, and talent pools. By promoting partnerships with academia and research institutions, we can drive technological advancements, develop new products and solutions, and enhance our competitive edge in the Saudi market,” he concluded.