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 Cars Interviews Dominque Depons
"
Test driving …… a job poorly known."

Mr. Dominique Depons , the founder of the first  test drive organization in the world, tells us more about it

For most people it looks  a lot less than it truly is. A little ride in a minibus until the constructor tent, reception and socializing  by the constructor staff followed by a 5 minutes behind the wheel drive and then returning to the constructor showroom . What clients most of the time ignore, is that  behind all this hides an organization specialized in test driving and professionals leading these trials .

It was during the exhibition show , 4WD &OUTDOOR SPORTS, held by Sport and partners at WARDIEH-KFARDEBIAN ,Lebanon from 11-15 August 2010, that BatoAutoMoto  had the chance to benefit from the expertise of Mr. Dominique Depons , G.M POWERCOM automobile tests. Being  the pioneer in the field, Mr. Depons enriched us with his valuable information and familiarized us more with his career.

-Can you tell us briefly what led you to this career?

I started racing when I was 18 years old. I participated in several races where I became finalist for “Marlboro “. I even defeated once who later became to be the famous Formula 1 driver “Jean Alesi”.  Unfortunately my racing career ended shortly following an accident I had in 1990. I switched to racing in off-shore boats. I won France championship in 1994 and  I participated  in a Middle East championship, in Dubai  where I ranked 7th in 1995 on a boat called ”Tagheuer” . I also participated  in Europe and world championship. Again, an accident  on a boat in Dubai,  came to end my career in off-shore boat racing in 1996. That was when I started my present career in test driving.

-How did you start this career?

As I said I started my present career at around the same period after I stopped off-shore boat racing by creating my own organization called “POWERCOM” and which I still run.

-What does “POWERCOM” exactly do?

We at “POWERCOM” organize and assist the car constructors in test driving and launching their cars. Depending on the specific technical demand, we recruit professional drivers issued from races .

 

-What is the idea behind performing test drives?

Actually, a constructor knows how to build a car but does not know how to drive it . It is as simple as that. On one hand, we teach people how to drive ,and on the other we help the constructor in selling his car by maximizing the outcome of its technical, mechanical as well as electronic potential during a test drive. We create emergency situations in which we help the client discover the electronic ability and safety system of the car.

-Are there several organizations in this field?

I was the founder of the first organization and at the moment there are only four worldwide.

-Where is “POWERCOM” located?

I first established the organization in France  , then I expanded it to Europe and Russia.

-Is test driving a seasonal job or do you work all year round?

We are actually busy all through the year. In winter, we do lots of winter drives in France and Europe. In summer, we give several sessions in test driving abroad. It is during  June and September , the periods for car launching , when we mostly work .

-On what brands have you already worked so far?

I worked with Audi during the first six years. I presently work for Porsche since eight years. I have been working for BMW as well for the last six years. I also work for Honda.

-How do you select your clients? Do you refuse to work with any constructor at any time?

Ethically, I refuse to work for brands that resemble. For example when I worked for Audi, I refused to work for BMW.

-According to what criteria  is your work evaluated?

According to the commercial outcome. In other words the number of cars sold.

-What brought you to Lebanon to participate in this event?

Actually, the manager of this event, Mr. Tony Moubarak, happens to be a good friend of mine. I was invited on a personal basis to help with test drives and I am delegated at VOLVO.

-How can you evaluate this event which is taking place for the first time in Lebanon?

I am very surprised. I have already done around twenty outdoor motor shows and I can say that from an organization point of view , this one ranks first. I can see this outdoor motor show  becoming the motor show of the Middle East soon. The land is exceptional, the view is beautiful and the quality of the exhibitors is high.

-In few words, how can you describe Volvo?

Volvo is luxury, sport and elegance.

-At last, as we heard some fans ask you ”why do we see several French becoming  race champions”?

I guess it is in our culture.
 

       
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