Bahrain: German automobile manufacturer to invest US$50 million in production base
Crowning Bahrain’s reputation as the first country in the Middle East to have an international Formula 1 circuit, the boutique German high performance sports car maker, RUF-Automobile GmbH - renowned for its craftsmanship in upgrading, servicing and restoring Porsche models - has announced its plans to set up a full-fledged service, production and marketing base in the Kingdom, its first such facility outside its home-base in Pfaffenhausen, Germany.
The new company, RUF-Middle East (RUF-ME), is being set up as a joint venture with local businessman, Rashad Janahi at an initial investment of US$50 million.
In a joint announcement at a media briefing held near the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), senior representatives of RUF and RUF-ME, said that the planned automobile production, servicing and marketing facility, is a one-of-its-kind development in the region, and is an indication of the growing maturity of the motoring market.
Explaining RUF’s decision to set up a base in the region, Mr. Alois Ruf, Managing Director, RUF-Automobile GmbH, said: “The Middle East, with its strong equestrian and great outdoors tradition, has over the past several years emerged as a key market for high-speed, high-performance automobiles. RUF has had a strong relationship with this region for over 20 years, which is reflected in its increasing customer base among high net worth individuals and avid sports car aficionados who take pride in owning custom-built high-performance machines.
“Our new facility will place us in closer proximity to our customers in the region, while also affording us access to other Asian markets. It will allow us to service RUF models that are already present here, while also developing the high-end automobile market for RUF in the region.”
“Obviously, Bahrain is the ideal choice for a production facility for a car manufacturer like RUF, because the Kingdom is the first in the Middle East to have a Formula 1 circuit, which will bolster the region’s interest in luxury sports cars and in turn generate a surge in demand for our premium cars,” he said.
Mr. Ruf further said that the friendly investment policies of the Government of Bahrain, excellent infrastructure and seamless access to the regional markets were key drivers behind the company’s decision to set up a production base in the Kingdom.
RUF was first established in 1939 as an auto service garage. Over the years RUF grew, manufacturing passenger tourist coaches and in 1963, the company began maintenance, servicing and repairing of Porsche cars, a business which it continues to do.
RUF began upgrading and tuning Porsche cars from 1970 onwards and in 1980s began manufacturing cars under its own brand name. RUF cars are based on 911 body shells. RUF manufactures only about 35 cars a year, which is purchased by car enthusiasts, race drivers and connoisseurs. Each car is customized according to the requirements of the buyer and sells for upwards of Euro 100,000, boasting of a top speed of 360 km/h
Elaborating on the company’s expansion plans, Mr. Ruf added: “We are also in the advanced stages of the development of our new, indigenous super car, which is slated to be launched next year. Our joint venture in Bahrain will supplement the production facility in Germany for the production of this car, which will be totally hand-tailored as is the case with all RUF cars.”
The new RUF offering is aimed at the premium end of the luxury sports car market, affords a large degree of customization to customers, and will sell at a price to be announced in due course.
“While starting off with limited production volumes, we aim to gradually upgrade our facilities in Bahrain to increase this number to more than 20 units in the near future,” he added.
Mr. Ruf who will Chair the newly formed Company further said that RUF, which has been a leading name in the global automobile industry for over 60 years, has joined hands with leading entrepreneur and car aficionado, Rashad Janahi, to set up the base in the Kingdom. “We are very proud to join hands with Mr. Rashad Janahi for the setting up of RUF-ME, and we are confident that this partnership will immensely benefit RUF in its renewed foray into the region’s market.”
Commenting on the partnership with RUF, Mr. Rashad Janahi, Vice Chairman, RUF-ME, said: “RUF is known as a pioneering innovator within the global auto industry and is considered one of the most respected high-performance car manufacturers in the world.”
“We consider it as a great privilege to be a partner of RUF in the region. We also believe that it is an extremely timely decision by RUF to set up a base in the Kingdom of Bahrain, which only stands to benefit from the rising reputation of the country among global automobile enthusiasts.”
Mr. Janahi further said: “The development of the Formula 1 track which has catapulted Bahrain’s image globally as an exciting, modern and vibrant country, is yet another example of the visionary leadership of the Rulers and the Government in shaping the future of the country,” he said.
Unveiling the on-ground plans of the joint venture in Bahrain, Mr. Janahi said: “The state-of-the-art production facility will come up on 20,000 square metres adjacent to the Formua 1 circuit. The RUF production base will be landmark in Bahrain as well as in the region, since it is the first automobile manufacturing facility in the GCC. It will also feature an advanced Research & Development (R&D) center, the first such full-fledged resource in the region.”
Full-scale construction of the facility is expected to commence within the next two months, and will be completed in a record time of 18-20 months.
Mr. Janahi further said: “The facility will also result in significant employment opportunities for the local population. In addition, as part of our agreement with RUF, which will be responsible for the overall management of the Bahrain unit, we will also conduct a series advanced training programmes for our local Bahraini employees, both in Bahrain, as well as in Munich.”