TBY talks to Jessica Passos, General Manager of Jaguar Land Rover Colombia, on opportunities in the local market, its investment in technology, and growing strategically.

Jessica Passos
Jessica Passos has over 18 years of executive experience in the automotive sector. Before her current position as the General Manager of Jaguar Land Rover Colombia, she held a number of positions within Mercedes-Benz and Daimler, primarily related to production, marketing, and sales. Passos holds an MBA from the Universidad de los Los Andes and a bachelor’s in business from Centro Universitário Municipal de São Caetano do Sul.

In late 2016, Jaguar Land Rover opened its second office in all of Latin America in Colombia. What opportunities do you see in the local market?

Our first office is in Brazil, near the factory in Rio. It has been there for the last 10 years since it was part of the Ford group. When Tata Motors bought the Jaguar and Land Rover company, the regional office was already in Brazil. Today, especially in the automotive segment, Colombia is growing faster and faster. We are here for many reasons—because of the country's improved economic situation and its current financial opportunities. It is completely different than it was 10 years ago considering the luxury market is now possible. In the 1980s and 1990s, people had money here but could not show that they did. Then, premium cars started to become more present as the country grew safer and economic activity improved. People were more comfortable displaying their wealth. Now, there are 30 year olds driving a Mercedes or BMW. The brands are increasing their portfolio just like other premium brands around the world. It is preparing itself to show it can offer everything the country is ready to receive. Colombia is one of the fastest-growing countries in Latin America, especially in the automotive segment and in premium brands.

In what ways will your new direct presence in the country impact the Jaguar and Land Rover brands?

Jaguar Land Rover is a part of Tata motors now, and there is greater investment in technology and products everywhere. For example, we now produce our own engine that we could not 10 years ago. We were just a small brand with one small importer and a single showroom in Bogotá. With the national sales company behind us, we have more financial muscle invested in the country as well in our processes to bring in more cars with better prices. We see an excellent market with huge opportunities. As a group, we invest a great deal of money in technology, people, and factories. We produce our own engines, which is also great for us. The company is growing, the brands are growing, and the country is growing. We are in the right place at the right time.

What are your expectations for your first full year here?

We want to be three times larger in the coming year. Now we can help the importer and our dealer while growing our service. We still do not have a dealer on the coast, Cali, or Medellín. There are many geographic opportunities; however, we must execute our strategy intelligently. Medellín and Cali are important pieces of the market. We will eventually get there; however, first we will expand services and then open a new showroom there. If we want to grow we know we have to get out of Bogotá, strategically growing from the aftersales perspective first.

How has the macroeconomic situation impacted the automotive industry?

We expected the year to start with stronger sales. Because of the economy and tax reform people are waiting to see how they are affected and how the tax reform will ripple through the economy. It is not bad compared to last year, especially because we had a motor show in November. We do expect an increase in the premium market with more or less 5% this year through until December. The second half of the year is typically better than the first. Generally, sales are 60% in the second half and 40% in the first. This is why we are still confident we can make it. In terms of both Jaguar and Land Rover we have increased sales by 44%. This is partly because of the national sales company presence and partly because we changed our prices.