INTERVIEW: Nissan Mexicana president Jose Munoz
Nissan Mexicana president Jose Munoz
Interviewed at Nissan's Americas media centre, Nissan Mexicana president Jose Munoz discusses his team’s achievements in 2011 and plans for 2012, including construction of a new manufacturing plant to be built in Aguascalientes. The facility, which will complement Nissan’s two existing Mexican factories, is scheduled to begin operations in late 2013. He envisions an environment where his team will be poised to achieve an unprecedented 30% share of the market in the future.
Q: Nissan Mexicana posted excellent results in 2011. How were you able to achieve this success?
Munoz: The key umbrella that drove us to that result was our people. Our people made a did effort in every single function within the company. By the time we got the bad news of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan, and later on the flooding in Thailand, this ended up being kind of a positive factor in terms of people-motivation and enhancement of processes that led to that result.
Now in terms of products and management strategy, I would say that the key was without doubt the launch of V-platform vehicles, the March and Versa. Immediately after the launch of both products, one in April and the other in July, they became segment leaders and this is really a tremendous achievement. Some years ago we were in Mexico relying only on the sales of Tsuru, which is still doing very well. But then since we launched the March and the Versa, now we are segment leaders in the subcompact and compact segments, and this has had lateral effects on the rest of the range. We became much stronger also in the so-called entry-luxury segment in Mexico, which is the one where we have the Sentra.
Q: How is the Infiniti brand doing since its launch last year in Mexico?
Munoz: Overall, I can say that the launch has been very successful. We can’t forget that in the Mexican market, we are positioned head-to-head with BMW and Mercedes in terms of price.
In terms of total ownership experience, we are the only brand in the market that is offering customers a package of services that is absolutely unique. Additionally, we selected as partners only the very best Nissan dealers; of course with independent contracts, with independent facilities, with brand-new investments in premium locations. But it means that we didn’t have any issue in terms of achieving break-even on our business plan. We have partners that were willing to go beyond any break-even as long as they managed to have a good representation for the brand. They are putting the best personnel in their dealerships so they can provide the best ownership experience to our customers.
We have expectations to increase our volume, and eventually, to move into what I call phase two. This is to enhance the coverage because we are competing with brands that have between 30 and 50 dealers. Ourselves, we have only three cities covered, with four partners and five locations in all of the country, focused on Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.
Q: Nissan Mexicana owns nearly 25% of the market; is more growth possible in 2012?
Munoz: In December, 2011, we achieved record market share for the month. Keep in mind that our key competitors work on a January to December fiscal-year basis. Especially, the number two in the market, GM, is very strong and they push to the limit to achieve the best result in December. So, 25.2% was the number we achieved. It was remarkable, an all-time record.
If the market conditions continue like this, and we enjoy all the supply, and all the benefits of the positioning of the brand, and efficiencies that we are doing as a team, I think we can one day achieve 30% [market share]. The key driver to sustaining this sales momentum in 2012, for us, is going to be more likely the supply available within the region.
Q: What is the significance of the new plant to be built in Mexico?
Munoz: This new plant is going to allow us to be more competitive when it comes to manufacturing, because of the size impact and volume impact, and also it will allow the whole region to achieve the maximum sales potential. I am sure that my colleagues in the US, Canada, in the domestic (Mexico) market, LAC (Latin American countries) and Brazil, they are going to welcome very much the products that will be manufactured in Mexico in the future and I’m convinced that we are going to be able to increase significantly the sales and the profit in the region.