Salman Sultan, Regional PR and Social Media Manager at Jaguar Land Rover MENA
By Shereen Shabnam
It is always a delight to meet with Salman Sultan, Regional PR and Social Media Manager at Jaguar Land Rover MENA. A motoring enthusiast, Salman graduated from the American University of Sharjah and worked with General Motors as the Retail Marketing Manager for the brand’s GCC markets and later assigned the role of Assistant Marketing Manager for GMC and Chevrolet SUVs and Trucks.
He joined the Jaguar Land Rover MENA team in 2012 as the brand’s Regional PR and Social Media Manager and oversees Jaguar Land Rover’s PR and Social Media programmes across the region. He was recognised as the ‘Best Public Relations Manager in MENA’ in 2019, picking up the prize for a second time.
We speak to Salman and find out he is driven by the rewarding feeling of success and is inspired by challenging of moments and situations. He works very well during tough times and when under pressure; especially when the topic at hand involves products that he absolutely adores and is proud of, such as Jaguar Land Rover’s stellar line-up of acclaimed and legendary vehicles.
- Tell us about the success of the much-awaited New Defender and what features did the GCC drivers like the most?
The New Land Rover Defender is adventure reinvented for the 21st century.
Since its unveiling, the New Defender has caught the attention and imagination of people all across the GCC as the “#Best4x4xFar” and the most capable Land Rover yet. Drivers in the GCC, especially those who enjoy off-roading and embarking on all-action adventures, have recognised The New Defender equipped to navigate tough desert landscapes with their legendary all-terrain capability.
The Land Rover Defender’s capabilities continue to evolve with a range of powertrain and design enhancements. Defender customers have more choice than ever with a full selection of exterior and interior colours and trims, including the choice of the distinctive 90 and 110 body designs.
- Do you think that the UAE is ready for the autonomous vehicles?
The UAE is ready and well-suited to autonomous vehicles. Dubai in particular aims to ensure 25 per cent of all public transport trips, including smart and driverless transportation, involve the use of autonomous vehicles by 2030 under the Dubai Smart Mobility.
At Jaguar Land Rover, we tested our self-driving Jaguar I-PACE prototype on the streets of Dubai. The all-electric, zero emissions I-PACE includes enhanced vehicle detection and avoidance capabilities through a combination of radar and cameras, alongside a traffic light detection system.
Self-driving has the potential to improve safety for all road users as well as improve the overall driving experience. We have a responsibility to develop public perception to enable the full extent of the benefits afforded by the technology.
Jaguar Land Rover is committed to engineering the next generation of autonomous, connected, electrified and shared vehicles as part of its Destination Zero vision to shape future mobility: zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion.
- What are the challenges you might face when rolling out or encouraging the use of autonomous vehicles with different cybersecurity and safety concerns?
Cybersecurity is essential to the success of self-driving vehicles and any automated system designed to minimise the risk of malicious access to vehicle controls and data. Jaguar Land Rover is committed to producing vehicles that place drivers and passengers’ safety as a priority.
Cybersecurity is a significant part of both vehicle and infrastructure systems development. In common with many other modern systems, autonomous vehicle security systems will need to evolve to deal with newly identified threats.
- How do you see the COVID19 pandemic impacting the luxury car segment?
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted all businesses and industries, not just the luxury cars segment on a global scale. For us at Jaguar Land Rover, all of our retailers worldwide are now open or partially open. Our plants have resumed production with robust health and safety protocols including stringent social distancing guidelines ensuring all sites are COVID-19 secure.
We can’t deny that it will take time to come back to the best of our years, but we are confident that things are moving in the right direction.
- How is technology having an impact on the auto industry for JLR, both from the drive assist point of view and remote purchasing becoming popular?
Technology has always been an essential part of the evolution of Jaguar Land Rover cars and we are always working towards enhancing technology in our vehicles. Among our latest advancements is Jaguar Land Rover’s new noise cancellation technology that removes unwanted road and tire sounds from the cabin. This provides a quieter and more refined experience for drivers and passengers.
We have also developed new contactless touchscreen technology which helps keep drivers’ eyes on the road and reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses in a post-COVID world. We are also taking part in trials of pioneering research to test the capability of advanced lightweight metals and composites to be used in future vehicles. In terms of remote purchasing, we have also extended our proud record of innovation with the evolution of our “Buy/Book Online” e-commerce platform.
- What have been the best car purchases for both Jaguar and Land Rover?
There is a great deal of demand for all Jaguar Land Rover cars in the Middle East and North Africa. Customers with a wide range of tastes and preferences continue to express great interest in our vehicles due to the variety we offer and how successfully we meet and cater to drivers’ needs.
The Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar along with the New Defender, are the most desired cars from Land Rover. For Jaguar, the best-selling cars are the Jaguar E-PACE and Jaguar F-PACE.
- Do you have a favourite car on your wish list? (personal question)
I love all kinds of cars so this is a tough one to answer. Having said that, if I had to choose one modern vehicle for my everyday use, then it would definitely be the New Land Rover Defender.
- What is your outlook on where the auto industry is headed in the next few years?
In the coming years, especially given the rise in demand for environmentally friendly and sustainable products, we aim to build on our ambitious roll-out of electrification. This includes the launch of plug-in hybrid versions and mild-hybrid versions, as well as fully electric cars like the I-PACE. More plug-in hybrids are arriving and full electrification is underway. Technology is also transforming within the automotive industry – Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), are most likely going to be used to manage prescient vehicle advancements.
- Can you share your thoughts/advice to the younger generation of car enthusiasts who look up to you as a role model?
First and foremost, I would stress the importance of prioritising safety. Safety is paramount and is of the utmost importance. Being a responsible, safety-conscious driver can literally save lives. Adopting a less responsible mindset can have fatal consequences: for you as a driver, your passengers, and other motorists. Younger car enthusiasts must always keep this in mind.
I would also encourage younger drivers to stay up to date with current trends, especially with regards to technology and the automotive industry as a whole. This would enable them to stay abreast of ongoing developments, which in a continuously evolving and dynamic industry is extremely important; particularly for those looking to pursue a career in the automotive field. Finally, I would advise everyone to always remember to stay focused, positive, and follow your dreams.
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