Mexico’s light-vehicle market was not the only one affected by the sales downturn that started in 2017. National production and sales of cargo and passenger transportation vehicles also took a hit. Despite the market’s contraction, MAN Truck and Bus México reached growth of 22 percent in sales in 2017 mainly thanks to the introduction of new vehicles to its lineup, says Leonardo Radomile, Managing Director of the company. In this edition of the Interview of the Week, Mexico Automotive Review presents Radomile’s insights on heavy vehicle sales, alternative motorizations and Mexico’s sales slowdown.
This is an excerpt from an exclusive article from the 2018 edition of Mexico Automotive Review. To read the full interview plus the insights of more key automotive characters, order a hard-copy of our latest edition or check out the digital version of MAR 2018!
Q: What level of growth is MAN Truck & Bus expecting in 2018?
A: 2017 may turn out to be the best year in terms of sales for MAN Truck & Bus. The heavy-vehicle sector registered a 5.2 percent drop in 2017. The most significant drop was in the truck segment while the bus market remained firm. However, MAN Truck & Bus saw an increase in sales volume of 22 percent compared to the numbers of 2016. If we divide our growth by segment, MAN reached 48 percent growth in the truck sector and 7 percent in the bus sector.
If we keep our sales volume steady, it will be a positive year. I am not overly worried about the market’s drop in sales in 2017 because the industry’s slowdown was foreseeable. I expect the year to finish with sales falling 3-5 percent, mainly because of the good results the industry enjoyed in 2016. The last two months of that year resulted in record-breaking numbers because of advance purchases attributable to uncertainty with President Trump’s discourse. Over 5,500 units were sold only in December. To put results in perspective, a 5 percent drop in 2017 would still mean growth of between 8 and 10 percent compared to 2015, which was a more stable year.
Q: How has MAN Truck & Bus’ counter-current development impacted the company’s growth expectations for 2018?
A: To date, we have reached a market share of 14 percent in the bus sector and 3 percent in the truck segment. Originally, our expectations were to reach an 18 and 5 percent share respectively by the end of 2018 but we have established a new projection. MAN Truck & Bus’ new objective by 2020 is growing its overall market share to 10 percent from our current 5.3 percent, resulting in sales of approximately 5,000 units. Our growth strategies will be founded on product, network development and aftersales services, and we want to increase our dealer network to 20 points of sale throughout the country by the end of 2018.
Q: What new products and technologies is MAN Truck & Bus bringing to the table?
A: We launched our highest number of new products for the decade in 2017. We released the new Delivery vehicle family comprising six new models that required a US$350 million investment from our headquarters. This line includes a prototype of the first 100-percent electric light truck developed by Volkswagen. This truck is already being tested and we expect it to be mass produced by 2020. The company is also introducing products equipped with technology that meets Euro VI emissions requirements. Even though Euro VI will become the standard in 2021, MAN is ready with this technology and we expect to start marketing it in 2019 when the transition will begin.
MAN is introducing the latest diesel, electric and natural gas technology in the heavy vehicles sector. Diesel motors will never die off, they will co-exist with new technologies. We will launch a new natural gas Constellation unit with a Euro VI engine that the company previously tested in Brazil. We expect to start testing this vehicle in Mexico and we also brought our most successful natural gas chassis, the MAN A69, to ExpoTransporte so Mexican clients could start becoming familiar with European standards.