Founded in 1988 by brothers, engineer Martin Wiesmann and businessman Friedhelm Wiesmann, and based in Germany, Wiesmann is a manufacturer of low-volume and hand-built high-performance sports cars. It went into administration in 2014, but is now being revived by the new CEO, Roheen Berry. Simon Wittenberg caught up with him to find out more his plans for the brand.
LM: What are your career highlights to date and why did you acquire the business last year?
RB: My career took shape from 2005 onwards, when I was lucky enough to gain multi-sector expertise working for the family business, Contec Global Group. It was through my passion and drive to achieve which resulted in several achievements. One of my top highlights saw me negotiate a national contract on behalf of Contec Secure Technologies with the Republic of Niger. I was subsequently elected Managing Director of Contec Global where I have continued to diversify and further develop the Group’s sub-divisions, with a specific focus on security technology.
I fell in love with Wiesmann before I had even contemplated the brand from a business perspective. My brother Sahir called me up back in 2014 having just purchased a midnight blue MF4; from the moment I saw the car, I was sold, and my interest clearly didn’t stop there.
One thing led to another and I considered not only how incredible it would be to not only participate, but also drive the preservation and revival of an Icon. Wiesmann ticks all the boxes from fashion to design to technology, whilst simultaneously aligning with Contec Global Group’s broader ambitions such as manufacturing and producing vehicles in Africa.
LM: What are the challenges involved with reviving such an iconic brand?
RB: Reviving Wiesmann has been one of the greatest and best challenges of my life. I say with great confidence that the brand never died and that the icon still remains. With this already in mind, my aim is not to revolutionise Wiesmann, but it’s to take what is essentially an iconic car in Germany and establish it as an internationally-recognised luxury sports car.
LM: What do you enjoy about working in the automotive sector?
RB: I like the direction that the automotive industry is taking. There is a closer attention to values such as sustainability and technological advancement, both practically and environmentally, which are elements of the business that I find exciting. On a more personal note, some of my favourite parts of working in the sector has come from the unique insight I have that comes with access to through our technicians, engineers and designers. Their knowledge regarding manufacturing and production of legacy vehicles will never cease to amaze me.
LM: Who are Wiesmann’s main competitors, and how does it differ from them?
RB: We don’t actually have any competitors, as we consider ourselves to be totally unique. We produce cars that are reliable just like an everyday car; as well as vehicles which are capable of speed and agility like a super sports car. We are also ultra-exclusive, similar to the top percentile of high value luxury cars. Furthermore, a Wiesmann will never lose its value, as it is the last remaining European thoroughbred luxury sports car manufacturer out there.
LM: Who is Wiesmann’s typical customer, and which have traditionally been the biggest markets for the company?
RB: I wouldn’t say there is a typical customer of Wiesmann, but what I can say is that they all are similar in that they like to remain distinguished and unique in their purchase behaviour. As a brand, it suits anyone from a young first-time buyer to the avid collector.
Women are massively attracted to the brand for its standout appeal – you really can’t miss a Wiesmann when you see one!
Wiesmann has already gained recognition and an iconic status within its native Germany where the company is based. In light of this, our task moving forward will be to broaden this awareness globally. When I talk of awareness, I don’t specifically mean just brand awareness, I mean understanding and recognition of what makes Wiesmann so special i.e. the outstanding build quality, material and design; the intricate technology required to create something so functional unique; and lastly the aesthetic beauty of its design.
LM: When can we expect the launch of Wiesmann’s new sports car (codenamed “Project Gecko”)?
RB: We are aiming for some time in 2020. More news will be announced soon, so watch this space!