AUTOMOTIVE

Costa Rica 2017 | TRANSPORT | B2B

A strong economy means strong automotive demand, with dealers and assemblers reporting growing profits.

Javier Quirós
JAVIER QUIRÓS
President
Grupo Purdy Motor
Juan Pablo Schneider
JUAN PABLO SCHNEIDER
Regional Manager
AutoStar

How has the company developed in Costa Rica over the years?

Javier Quirós In 1957, my father was working in agriculture and was looking for a four-wheel drive vehicle. He had heard of Toyota. He ordered a few cars and later realized he liked the business of selling. By 1959, he quit his career in agriculture and worked with Toyota. He later set up its first assembly plant. This lasted until 1983 when the law changed. Toyota had the number-one market share in 1971 with the Corolla model and has remained in that position. In 1997, we hired the CEO of the company and set up a board of directors and things started to change more professionally. We have been lucky and the company has grown greatly nationally and internationally, mainly in the US.

Juan Pablo Schneider AutoStar was established in 2003 as a small operation. The Kaufmann Group from Chile has represented drivers' products for more than 65 years. The Kaufmann Group now has a presence in Chile, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, and we have been in Central America since 2010. We are the exclusive dealers for Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram products, as well as for Freightliner trucks. I am the regional manager overseeing Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua and we have two general managers—one in Nicaragua and one in Panama. However, the biggest operation is Costa Rica, where we have 275 people working with us. Our sales figure in 2015 was around USD113 million and we expect a 6% increase in 2016.

In 2016, Purdy invested USD11 million in Costa Rica, mostly in infrastructure, opening the Ciudad Toyota. Is Purdy planning further expansion?

JQ Ciudad Toyota is like a big hospital; it is where everything goes for after sales, body shop insurance, and so on. Ciudad Toyota is a big facility. We just bought 20,000sqm of land to move the body shop over because we were having many problems hosting the body shop externally. We are also placing an assembly plant for Hino trucks there. Hino has been owned by Toyota for many years, and it was a mostly local brand in Japan. Now, it has decided to go worldwide and open markets and assembly plants. With this new assembly plant, we will only produce a few trucks a month. Our idea is to convince Hino it can build a bigger assembly plant and export to Latin America from Costa Rica. We are located in the middle of the Americas and can export to South America, the islands, and North America

What are the characteristics of your market share evolution in Costa Rica and how do you foresee the market evolving?

JPS Take the example of the luxury market; when you normally talk about Mercedes-Benz, it is usually along with BMW and Audi, not Lexus or Land Rover. In this area, we have seen strong growth of around 50% YoY in 2016 with new SUV products and our market share has grown considerably as a result. In 2015, our market share was 26% and as of 2Q2016 we are at 33% market share in the luxury realm. As for the market in general, it is clearly growing. We had a significant boom with exports in March and the last two years have been good in Costa Rica. However, I do not expect this growth to continue at the same rate. In 2H2016, business will freeze a little and I expect growth of perhaps 15-16%.