‘There’s a lot of things the government needs to think about with this electric business. I don’t think they’ve thought about it properly.’
Appearing on Car Dealer Live, Amari Supercars owner Sheikh Amari told host James Batchelor: ‘The market will always be there for the petrol cars.’
He added that manufacturers had said they were introducing electric cars. ‘They’re not saying they’re going to do away with the petrol cars – that’s very important. And yes, they’ll stop producing petrol cars if they do go 100 per cent electric, but my personal view is that I don’t think the electric car market will be a buoyant market.’
Citing his business trips as an example, he told of being stuck in a traffic jam for four or five hours while returning from London before the lockdown. It was a hot day so the air con was on and he had the radio playing for entertainment, so if he’d been in an EV the batteries would have been wasted.
‘And if there were 1,000 cars in that jam and the majority were electric, how would they be charged? You’d have to pull into the next service station.’
This, to Amari’s mind, meant petrol vehicles shouldn’t be dismissed by the corridors of power. ‘I think petrol will still be an option and I think the government should give that option.’
As well as that, there was the all-important noise and feel of the engine when it comes to hypercars.
Amari was home-taught and grew up in a car trade environment so absorbed the necessary skills, although he joked that he was still learning how to sell supercars.
‘My dad always said to me if your product is right and it’s well presented you don’t need to sell it, it’ll sell by itself. The buyer needs to convince himself that he wants the car. And that’s the way we work here. That’s the best way to prepare your stock – make it the best.’
During the show, broadcast on June 10, he paid tribute to his wife Saba – who made a cameo appearance! The couple have been married for 18 years, and with her law background Saba has brought many benefits to the Preston-based dealership, with which she’s been involved for 12 years.
‘She is the backbone. She’s fantastic,’ said Amari. And he predicted a big change in the industry with more women in the car sales world in the next five years, including taking over dealerships. ‘They’ve got the skills, they’ve got the know-how. They do things a lot more to the point than what guys do. They keep us on our toes – and i’m sure a lot of car dealers out there will agree with me!’
Which of the supercars were the easiest to sell, wondered Batchelor. ‘We’re quite lucky because we do well with all our brands. There aren’t very many independent showrooms out there that are 15,000 square foot, we’re on the net, we do videos, we’ve got very good-quality pictures as well, all our cars are described down to a T.
‘So with all that being in place, they all sell – Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches. It’s not like one month it’s Ferraris. For example, last week we sold 14 cars and out of 14 cars there’s Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar and Range Rover. So you’ve got six brands there across the board.’
Talking about the pandemic, Amari said: ‘It’s been a big change for us in one way, but in another way it’s been normal as well. The big change for us was we were working from home, but where it was normal was emails were still coming through but a lot more. The phones were ringing a lot more as well, and people were still buying online.’
Amari made the point that the dealership has had a website since 1997/98. It’s understandably evolved over the years, but the online business has always been there. As such, walk-in trade these days is only about 15 per cent.
Discussing the economic impact of the pandemic, he said: ‘The people with the money, they want to buy. They want to buy something luxurious.’ Quite simply, it wasn’t an issue with them.
‘Nobody’s going to be going on holiday for the next 12 to 18 months. The pubs, the restaurants are all closed. How much money are you going to be saving?’ asked Amari.
‘I’m in London two days a week, three days a week sometimes, and when I’m with clients you take them out for a meal and a meal for two people or even four people is six to seven hundred pounds.
‘A lot of people out there with money are out on meals every single night and it’s costing them probably several thousand pounds a week.’ The end result? They’ve saved all that money, so they buy themselves a nice car.
What had his pricing strategy been when the lockdown started? After initial concerns, it was very much a case of holding one’s nerve. ‘People were thinking of dropping their prices. Even we thought what do we do now? How long is this going to last? Is this the end of the world? It was very surreal. Are we ever going to go back to work? Three months is a long time.
‘We decided just to hold the market, pause everything, do not put any prices down, leave them as they are. If somebody wants to make us an offer we’ll consider it, but if we knock 10, 20 grand off a car then they’ll want another 10, 20 grand off as well.’
As the interview drew to a close, Batchelor asked Amari what he would advise his younger self when he was starting out. ‘Tell the truth, be honest, be honourable, have good intentions, buy the right cars and present them properly. Your preparation is key,’ he said.
See the broadcast in full by clicking on the main image.
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