LEGACY BRAND

Colombia 2018 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Fernando Agudelo, President of the Andean region of General Motors (GM), on its impressive investments in Colombia, his outlook for the economy, and its growing focus on exports.

Fernando Agudelo
BIOGRAPHY
Fernando Agudelo is the President of the new GM South America West Unit. General Motors has appointed Agudelo in positions as President and Managing Director for Ecuador, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia. Agudelo studied industrial engineering at the Universidad de Los Andes and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. With more than 20 years of experience at General Motors, Agudelo began working for the company when he joined GM Colmotores in 1996. Since then, he has worked in distinct areas of the business in countries including Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.

What is GM's approach regarding local investments for 2018-2019?

In recent years, GM has adapted quickly to the economic changes and has been innovative, offering customers a broad portfolio of products with new standards of design, technology, security, connectivity, and performance. Recently, we made a COP22 billion (USD7.59 million) investment in the production and commissioning of our new models Chevrolet Spark GT and Chevrolet Beat that were launched in 1Q2018 in Colombia. This project was planned and executed in a record time of 12 months, in which more than 800 people participated and more than 31,000 hours of work were invested in the assembly and automation. Additionally, we spent about 69,000 hours in training. On top of this, we presented the new Chevrolet DMAX, characterized by its power, superior performance and technology. We remain focused on offering innovative products and services with superior technological development, excellent performance, unmatched quality, and the best after-sales service in the country.

Now that the political situation is clearer, what are your expectations for the future?

In GM, we are committed to cooperation between the private sector and the government; we actively participate and support policies that promote competitiveness, productivity, innovation, and the continuous improvement of the national industry. For GM, it is crucial to have the national government support the promotion and development of the automotive sector, toward the generation of scenarios and conditions to achieve the required balance in the operation, in promoting incentives for new investments, and for the sustainability of the industry in Colombia. We are optimistic about the recovery of the market during the second half of the year. We trust in the rebound of the economic indicators that will lead to an increase in consumer confidence, so the automotive industry can resume its growth path. Despite the decrease in sales, Colombia is still an interesting market because it has one of the most important potentials in the region.

What new models will GM introduce into the local market?

In addition to the great and successful launches we made during 1H2018—Chevrolet Spark GT, Chevrolet Beat, and Chevrolet DMAX—our brand will continue to surprise our customers by offering products with the best design, comfort, efficiency, connectivity, and advanced security features. Furthermore, we will take advantage of the XVI version of the Motor Show in Bogotá to present brand-new features. Besides the strengthening of the products we offer in the local market, exporting is the main priority for our business. The consolidation of GM in South America's west region has allowed an increase of our exports for vehicles such as the Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Sail, and our Chevrolet NQR bus to Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador. In 2018, from January to May, we exported around COP114 billion (USD39.33 million) and expect that to grow to COP367 billion (USD126.615 million) by the end of the year and COP600 billion (USD207 million) in 2019 according to our export plan.

What are GM's long-term commitment and strategic investment plans in the country and South America West region?

Colombia is now part of General Motors South America West region and is also the headquarters, not only as a sign of our commitment to the Colombian national industry, but also as an appeal to work on the competitiveness and a long-term sustainability through the production for the national market and for the increase of exports. Our objective with the consolidation of the region is to strengthen the leadership of Chevrolet's brand, taking advantage of global products and increasing exports to become a profitable and sustainable operation. We are ranked in the top 20 of the main companies in Colombia, one of the five most important industrial companies, and the leaders in the automotive Colombian market. We have built this legacy for over more than six decades, generating qualified employment, technology, economic, and social development for the country.