Interview with Mr. Ricky Tay, Volkswagen Singapore’s Managing Director
Singapore - Being the first Singaporean to take the reins of Volkswagen Group Singapore since the brand started managing its retail business here 10 years ago, Mr. Ricky Tay is no stranger to the motoring scene with over 30 years of experience. 9tro was fortunate enough to catch up with the industry veteran to gain some insight into the challenges facing our industry as a whole.
9tro: Given Singapore's move towards a car-lite nation, what are your views on this
and how is your brand tackling this issue?
Mr. Ricky Tay: 2017 will indeed be a challenging year for the industry. In our opinion, the recent announcement of the Vehicle Emissions Scheme (VES), while laudable for its efforts in making the automotive sector more environmentally friendly, is also the strongest signal yet in the government's car-lite movement.
It is possible that the announcement will spook car buyers into entering the market this year in a bid to avoid higher prices in 2018, since the VES indicates that car prices will probably increase across the board - many cars are either considered neutral or will receive surcharges in the scheme. A surge in demand would certainly cause COE premiums to rise. A significant segment of customers would then feel the pinch, especially buyers of entry-level car models. Some may even be priced out of the market.
While we understand the government's move towards a car-lite nation, feedback from our customers has been that many still require personal mobility solutions, especially for those who travel together with their parents and children. As such, car ownership is still a necessity for many.
To help our customers make their best choice, we will ensure that our model line-up has a product for every need at attractive prices. A core part of the Volkswagen mission is to have a wide range of models suits all tastes and requirements - we will also strive to meet our customers' exacting requirements in safety, technology, and innovation.
9tro: With COEs still out of reach for the majority of the populace, how has your
company/brand coping with this and has there been any headway in trying to solve
the slump in car buyers?
Mr. Ricky Tay: It is clear that even with today's high COE premiums, there is still a significant number of people willing to invest in high quality, technologically advanced cars. The easing of motor vehicle financing regulations in May 2016 certainly helps - several of our models qualify for a loan of 70% of the car's value. These include the Golf, Beetle, Jetta, Polo, and the Scirocco.
There is also the option of purchasing pre-owned cars from our used car division, Das WeltAuto. As Das WeltAuto is also fully owned by Volkswagen, we can ensure the highest possible resale value to help our customers. If purchasing a vehicle is not feasible at this time, a customer may opt to lease instead. This can span anywhere between 1 year and 7 years, and our experienced sales team will be able to recommend the best option to our customers based on their budget and intended usage.
9tro: What are your brand/company's plans in the upcoming months/years for the
Mr. Ricky Tay: Keeping personal mobility affordable, safe and environmentally compatible is a key focus of the Volkswagen Group. In the months ahead, we look forward to introducing exciting new models in Singapore.
We are also working towards further improving customer delight and making their ownership journey a seamless one. Over the past years, we have consistently optimised our processes and implemented many new programmes for them.
One of them is our online service booking portal, where customers can book their regular scheduled servicing appointments instantaneously. We also arrange events for our customers on a monthly basis, with topics catering to various interests such as food, sports, music, or themed driving events. These have been met with very encouraging response from our customers, and we look forward to doing even more for them this year.
With support from the government, we look forward to bringing the latest technology from Europe to Singapore in the near future. Volkswagen is a global leader in e-mobility, and this is exemplified through models such as the Golf GTE, Passat GTE, e-Up!, and e-Golf. As a high-volume manufacturer, Volkswagen wants to make a significant contribution to helping the electric car make its breakthrough on the global scale.