Ilias Ghiyati, General Manager of Autorola Gulf, discusses the first 12 months of the business launching its new partnership with Al-Futtaim Automotive

Written by Autorola in category 
April 26, 2024


“It has taken twelve months of meeting potential customers, dealers, rental companies, lease companies, and OEMs. These are established businesses, and we are introducing them to a digital transformation of their remarketing. For many large ticket B2B businesses, their remarketing is very complex.

“We are continually fact-finding and understanding each country’s individual dynamics in the Gulf region. This includes meeting with many independent dealers to understand how and where they source their used vehicles. Many businesses are still family-owned, and building trust is important.

“They are very entrepreneurial, and we must show them that we too are entrepreneurs and are committed to changing market processes to benefit everyone’s business. We have been trading online for over 20 years and started our business when websites were in their infancy. Our vision has remained consistent over the decades, and online auctions are slowly replacing physical auctions, something that has sped up since the Covid pandemic when buying online was the only method of buying stock.

Replacing manual work processes

“On the fleet side, we are talking to rental companies about how they sell their vehicles, and our general conclusion so far is that existing remarketing processes and workflows are very manual.

“These insights give us confidence that many of these processes will benefit from being digitized through our Fleet Monitor workflow management system and Digital Showroom online auction system, which will provide valuable support to their businesses.

“Al-Futtaim Automotive (AFA) is a very well-established and trusted business trading right across the Middle East. Working with AFA as a partner and customer gives us local experience and market knowledge which we are combining with our 20-plus years of technology and experience working in the automotive industry.

“The Middle Eastern market consists of big traders in all sorts of goods including cars. The customer’s behaviour and the way they work is very different. We must now build trust with buyers and vendors, that our digital channels will help support and grow their businesses while bringing many efficiencies.


“Despite our partnership with AFA, our impartiality means we respect everyone’s data privacy. We must educate the marketplace that we are impartial and respect their privacy.

“Autorola handles sensitive data on behalf of banks, financial institutions, and very demanding customers, including world-leading OEMs. We take information security and data integrity to the next level.

“We listen carefully to feedback from the marketplace and that is very important as we continue to learn about customer needs, but we can be flexible and agile.

“INDICATA is not available yet in the region, but we are exploring how we set the platform up and explore opportunities. There is no doubt the region will benefit from used vehicle pricing insights in real-time as there is an underserved opportunity in creating transparency on cross-border trade to maximise pricing.

Cross-border disposal strategy

“Knowing more about pricing between countries, particularly when you sell multiple vehicles, such as rental and leasing suppliers, is extremely useful. It helps support your disposal strategy and you choose to dispose of the country where your stock is worth the most.

“We recently launched open auction activities using the Digital Showroom software from Autorola Solutions.

“Wholesale channels are currently very immature, which is where our technology can help. Over the next 3-5 years, we believe that wholesale volumes being listed and sold online through marketplaces, will rise dramatically in the region as more online channels come on stream and as businesses embrace change by welcoming more innovation to the region.

Shifting away from oil revenues

“We have seen rapid change in the Gulf region, which has been supported by a young population and a shift away from a reliance on oil revenues. For instance, Lucid Group officially opened Saudi Arabia’s first ever car manufacturing facility to produce its groundbreaking electric vehicles for the home and export markets.

“Ceer Motors, a joint venture between PIF, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and Foxconn, recently started building a one-million square metre car manufacturing facility to produce a target of 170,000 cars a year for the domestic and export markets.

“BYD has an exclusive cooperation with Al-Futtaim Automotive in the UAE and recently marked a crucial expansion to Saudia Arabia, which gives Autorola very interesting perspectives in the Arab world’s largest economy.  We are also set to announce an exciting new customer in Qatar in the second quarter of 2024.

Large buyer base

“The Hertz UAE franchise is owned by Al-Futtaim Automotive and its 12–24-month-old used cars are sold through the Al-Futtaim Auto Auction digital showroom, which is a self-managed auction platform, powered by Autorola.

“Hertz offers a broad selection of cars and is considered a trusted source, which gives confidence to Al-Futtaim’s large buyer base. The online channel makes it easy to do business for buyers and vendors alike. Dealers are slowly getting used to buying used cars online more seriously.

“Part of building buyer trust is to ensure vehicles are inspected thoroughly and quality images captured of each vehicle before they are uploaded online. That empowers the seller to sell vehicles online whilst making sure the pricing is correct.

“Lease contract returns will also benefit from a quality vehicle inspection, not just for the lease company, who are determining what the dehire costs are for their client, but also for then speeding up the on-sale process. Our inspection software can help make the dehire process very objective.

End-to-end vehicle management

“Where we believe our Fleet Monitor asset workflow platform will become popular, is to manage a vehicle’s life from end-to-end finishing with the sale of the vehicle. Tracking everything from car order to sale, it enables rental and leasing fleets to enrich their data connected with their stock inventory.

“It will help companies in the Gulf region to digitise their processes and make them more efficient plus understand more information about their vehicle inventory and when overlaying INDICATA’s used car pricing data understand the current value of their stock. Fleets have admitted that they are hungry for more accurate used car data, and we look forward to providing that in the future.”

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