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Ecuador 2012 | INDUSTRY | B2B: AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR

The automotive sector has received much attention in recent years, with CKD assembly showing strength.

Nicolás Espinosa
NICOLÁS ESPINOSA
Executive President
Ayasa
Francisco Restrepo
FRANCISCO RESTREPO
Executive President
Corporación Maresa

What trends have you observed in the sector in recent years?

NICOLÁS ESPINOSA Ecuador has experienced a very important social change in the last decade, and the industry has clearly benefited from that. In the last 10 years, we have seen an increase from 45,000-60,000 vehicles sold annually to 70,000-130,000. Today, Ecuadorean consumers plan for the medium term, because their purchasing power has increased. As an example, we can currently offer credit lines for five, six, and even seven years, when in 1998 such credit lines were available only for periods of up to 24 months. The Ecuadorean population has improved its economic position, and the income per capita is currently around $3,700, as compared to $1,500 a few years ago. The best example to illustrate this development is that the general managers of Ecuadorean companies used to know every client, whereas today there are far too many clients to keep track of. Acquiring a car has become one of the main priorities of the population, and it is a vital step for young people and couples as they start families. Today, there are over 2 million cars in Ecuador, a country of 14 million inhabitants, which means that there is a vehicle for every seven citizens. Ecuadorean consumers are beginning to prioritize price, quality, and services.

FRANCISCO RESTREPO In Ecuador, the government's policies are aimed at injecting resources into the economy, which makes the country and the automotive sector more dynamic. Ecuador enjoys a surplus of around $2 billion thanks to oil production, and the country is receiving investments from China for infrastructure. Using this money in the market, the public sector was able to create 200,000 jobs that offer an average monthly salary of $1,000, which demonstrates the growth and dynamics in the economy. Owing to this phenomenon, consumption in Ecuador is very high, which has fueled the negative trade balance and monthly deficit of $500 million. In 2012, we will see a continuation of 2011, when a lot of companies and banks registered excellent results.

How has Ayasa's position in the market evolved over the years?

NE Over the past few years, our company has experienced significant growth rates in the sale of both Nissan and Renault cars, two brands we officially represent in Ecuador. In addition, Ayasa is also the official representative of Pirelli, as well as fuel additives-maker Cyclo, which allows the company to enjoy constant growth and the commercialization of exclusive brands. Ayasa was established 49 years ago, and diversification has always played a key role in our business strategy. In this regard, Ayasa is planning to add Renault Trucks to its portfolio. This move will take place in 2012, and we expect to continue broadening our range of products and services, as the company faces the challenges of the market while maintaining a leading position. Due to the government's policy to address the trade balance situation—prioritizing exports and reducing imports—the year 2011 witnessed an agreement to reduce the overall number of imported cars by 10%. For 2012, we are still awaiting the government's analysis to set our expectations and assess the commercial year. Thus far, we have strictly complied with the government's policies, and we will continue to do so in the future. Furthermore, we are heavily focused on improving the quality of our after-sales services, where we see plenty of room for improvement. This segment will be crucial for us as we maintain our position in the market. Our strategy is to use our high-quality products and very attractive prices against the competition.

What is Maresa's forecast for 2012?

FR We have been developing the assembly line since 2007, with an initial investment of $7 million and an additional $10 million in equipment. Maresa recognizes that the regulations for strengthening the country's production system will continue, and we are banking on this trend. In 2012, we will experience a transition in which we will work to complement the commercialization of new brands. We expect that in 2013, a number of new assembly projects will come on stream. Generally, a full year is needed before an assembly project is ready to start producing, owing to the time it takes for the appropriate tools to be installed and facilities to be prepared. We expect to consolidate a variety of assembly agreements in 2012, so that in 2013 we will be ready to begin manufacturing. Therefore, 2012 is a transition year because many of our planned assembly projects will be carried out. If the Japanese yen weakens and productive tax policies are reformed, the tax burden will not grow.