Ford Middle East set out its stall yesterday to challenge Toyota and become the biggest car brand in the UAE, opening a new US$53 million (Dh194.6m) parts plant in Jebel Ali.
The 29,500 square metre parts distribution centre puts Ford on level pegging with Toyota and General Motors, which both have similarly sized facilities in Dubai.
Larry Prein, the managing director for Ford Middle East, said the centre would increase the availability of parts and help to improve the market share of the brand, which has enjoyed a 55 per cent jump in sales so far this year.
"Personally, I think we can compete with cars like Toyota and Nissan right now as far as our products and dealer service goes," said Mr Prein. "But Toyota and Nissan have had more consistency through history in the region. We are making up ground and doing it more quickly."
There is no independently collated data on car makers' market share in the UAE or the Middle East, but Al-Futtaim Toyota claims to make up about 40 per cent of total car sales in the Emirates and forecasts sales of about 100,000 cars this year. Mr Prein refused to put a figure on the market share of Ford in both the Middle East and the UAE, but said in terms of brand value the car maker would match Toyota within the next two to three years.
"I would expect to see our brand compete with Toyota. That might not translate to sales, but we are keeping on working on the brand," said Mr Prein.
Ford joins a host of other car makers that are trying to win market share from Japanese brands Toyota and Nissan, which have traditionally been the biggest volume heavyweights in the Middle East.
Ford's new parts centre will house about 90 per cent of all car parts, reducing average delivery times from more than 30 days to between two and 12 days.
It will stock 50,000 parts or 6 million total pieces, with an inventory value of about $43m.
Toyota's facility can house 75,000 parts worth about the same value.
Investing in huge parts warehouses allows car makers to better manage their supply chain to the region and provide a higher level of service to customers.
Ford has been focusing on the Middle East this year, marketing new technologies such as cars that can park themselves.
The parts warehouse is the biggest single investment the brand has made in the region.