Fernando M. Villanueva

Fernando M. Villanueva

General Manager, Jaguar Dominicana
Miguel Barletta

Miguel Barletta

President, Grupo Ambar

Why did Viamar Group decide to introduce Jaguar in the Dominican Republic?

FERNANDO M. VILLANUEVA Jaguar became a member of Viamar Group in 2000. At that time, the group was experiencing growth in market share and the market itself was increasing. In 1988, Ford Motor Company bought Jaguar Motors, so it was a natural progression. We were offered Jaguar in 2000, and the timing was perfect because the company was booming and the market was expanding. It was natural for us to venture into luxury cars for the first time. We had some experience with the Lincoln line, but as Lincoln has always been perceived as a US brand, Jaguar fit perfectly into our mix.

Grupo Ambar distributes Nissan and Chevrolet. What new lines are on the way?

MIGUEL BARLETTA We recently incorporated the Infiniti brand of vehicles and the luxury brand of Nissan Motors, making us one of the first countries in Latin America to do so. It has a standalone full service facility on the grounds of Santo Domingo Motors.

What is the customer profile for Jaguar Dominicana?

FMV One of the misconceptions about Jaguar is that it is too pricey or aristocratic, in that it is one of the few cars used by the monarchy in the UK. In reality, Jaguar offers competitive prices. We do not exalt or emphasize our brand or try to sell the vehicle based upon its price. The competition innovates and innovates, often losing the essence of luxury. Our customers are curious about Jaguar because we present vehicles that maintain that hard-to-get sense of luxury. I am confident that we are one of the last brands that do not compromise when it comes to offering our customers the luxury they seek. Our true customers value that and the services we provide. We are blessed in that we have a small house; we know each customer by name and tailor to each one. We relate to our clients on a first-name basis because we pay attention to detail, as does Jaguar.

What is the car industry doing to reduce sales volatility?

MB Automobile markets in Latin America have traditionally been volatile and cyclical. The Dominican Republic is no exception, and in our particular case it strongly impacts the government's revenue perceived through various taxes that are paid at the various stages of the sale process. The majority of the time, factors are external to the local industry but on occasion the numbers are volatile on account of specific imports for numerous private and public programs. In essence, there is very little that the industry can do to impact the volatility, but it would be in everyone's interest to reduce it.

What success have you experienced over the last 12 years?

FMV When Jaguar was introduced, we experienced a distinct boom in sales. We were expecting around 100 sales per year for the first five years, but we achieved 100 sales in the first two months. There was an initial boom with the introduction of new lines such as the S-Type and the innovative XK type. However, the designers rested on their laurels and did not change any significant parts of the S-Type for five or six years. For that reason, the brand suffered from saturation. When you see the same car for five or six years, you are not going to want to buy it. With the advent of new models of Mercedes, BMW, and Audi, our sales started to shrink—not only in the Dominican Republic, but also worldwide. In 2008, Jaguar introduced the XF, which replaced the S-Type, and again we saw a huge sales boom, coupled with the fact that Jaguar Motors was sold to Tata Motors. This was beneficial for us; we were able to enjoy a dedicated company that did not have other luxury brands taking away some of the funding that should be allocated for technology, design, and R&D. The XJ vehicle, which was one of Jaguar's flagships and was released in 1968, never changed. They would tweak it here and there, but the shape did not change.

In 2012, Chevrolet celebrated its 100th anniversary, and Grupo Ambar got a mention for being the top seller of the brand in the Caribbean region. What is the position of Chevrolet within the local market?

MB Traditionally, Chevrolet has been the leading US brand and over the last couple of years it has consistently increased its market share in the Dominican Market to be one of the top automotive makes in the country.

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