This is an exclusive article of the 2016 edition of Mexico Automotive Review. If you want to get all the information, plus other relevant insights regarding the Mexican automotive industry, get your copy of Mexico Automotive Review 2016.
Article based on an exclusive interview with Mayra González, President and Director General of Nissan Mexicana.
Q: As the new President and Director General of Nissan in Mexico, what is your strategy to boost the company’s presence in this market?
A: Nissan has developed a long-term strategy to consolidate the brand in the Mexican market. Our innovative products have gained distinction, both in the compact and SUV segments. Similarly, we have achieved significant recognition in the light commercial vehicle market with the NP300 pickup leading the segment. This year, our strong compact-oriented strategy focuses on modifications to the Nissan Sentra and the Nissan Altima. This will boost their participation in the market along with the Nissan Versa, which is the top-selling vehicle in the Mexican market. Innovation has been the core of our growth here and although it is a small market, we increasingly are participating in the electric vehicle (EV) segment. Presently, eight of every 10 EVs sold in Mexico are Nissan LEAFs.
Our distribution network also has been crucial to Nissan’s success. Nissan’s development strategy is based on strengthening its network, finding the right locations for its dealerships, following the best standards and offering the proper training to manage points of sale. To date, we have made an investment of more than US$130 million to obtain the results we wanted, adding 40 new dealerships throughout the country. Eventually, those efforts made our 25.7 percent market share a reality in 2015. We still have ambitious goals for the Mexican market and our financing arm will be a vital factor to make this happen. We see financing as a growth opportunity that will allow us to explore new markets and reach demographics that have not yet been targeted by Nissan.
The domestic market is growing immensely and for our brand to grow in line with that rate is amazing. Nissan sold 355,950 vehicles in its 2015 fiscal year, a quantity unseen since the 2008 financial crisis. While other brands focused on surviving, we pushed to keep growing in the market. That is how we developed this strategic plan and how we managed to consolidate the name of the brand after all these years.
Q: How did Nissan transform its image from a cost-competitive brand to an innovative company with attractive products?
A: We worked hard to match the rational part of our brand with the emotional link we wanted to form with our customers. It was crucial to develop this link without hurting our reputation for durability, reliability, quality and cost competitiveness that defined Nissan in previous years. We now talk about Nissan with an approach that reflects the experience and excitement of driving one of our vehicles.
Q: How is the company balancing its manufacturing goals with marketing?
A: The reality is that we do not sell more vehicles because we cannot produce any more vehicles. All our plants are at full capacity and they only stop operations once a week for maintenance. We are one of the biggest manufacturers in the country and by 2018 once the COMPAS plant starts operations, we expect to produce more than 1 million vehicles per year. Approximately 37 percent of our entire production will be destined for the domestic market, which no other local-based company is doing at the moment. One million vehicles is a considerable number given that we export to more than 50 countries. We expect the domestic market to keep growing in the near future.
Q: What kind of influence do you expect to have as the first female President of the largest automotive company in Mexico?
A: My being a woman is coincidental. The reason I am now in this position is because I stand out in my job and I gained experience by collaborating in many areas of the company. Women need to stop seeing the automotive industry as a men’s market. There are definitely more men but it is not an exclusive sector.