How has the economic transformation of the past decade changed the automotive industry?
We are a company that believes in the potential of the country, which is why we implement investment plans every year. Over the last few years, we have focused on introducing better production processes to increase capacity and become a more efficient and competitive company. For example, we have successfully maintained the leading position of our brands—Nissan and Renault—in the market. Also, we emphasized the need to improve the quality of our services. For example, AYASA currently reinvests 70% of its profits back into the country. These elements position our company as a leading player in the sector. On top of that, Ecuador has enjoyed a stable political and economic environment, and the automotive industry has benefited from this. The industry has also paid special attention to the post-sales service segment over the last few years, a segment in which we have positively grown. The future will follow such trends, and we believe we have plenty of room to continue expanding our activity in this segment in particular and the sector in general.
How has AYASA adapted its business strategy in accordance with the government's new production goals?
We are a very flexible and dynamic company, and we saw the new industrial production approach by the government as an opportunity in itself. For example, we have been closely working with the brands that represent Nissan and Renault in Ecuador to implement an electric car project. The government has already carried out research on the potential implementation of this ambitious project and its profitability, apart from the positive environmental impact of it. We have to keep in mind that Renault and Nissan have been worldwide leaders in the mass production of these vehicles for similar projects in northern Europe, and this is a competitive advantage for us, because we see there is huge potential in Ecuador for such a project. All in all, we align ourselves with the production policies of the government, especially in the segment of electric cars.
What is the status of the electric car project?
We have already conducted all the relevant studies on the mass utilization of these vehicles for public company fleets. In this context, some of these companies, for example, Correos del Ecuador, have already carried out tests with these vehicles. At the moment, the government has already taken the steps to set up the regulatory framework for the implementation of this project, and the importation of these types of vehicles. Additionally, several private companies have already shown their interest and commitment to implement such an ambitious goal. AYASA will soon hand in the draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and the brands we represent in order to take a step forward in this entire process. This is an important opportunity to change the mobility culture in Ecuador and boost local production in the automotive industry through different stages—a battery recycling plant first, followed by a production and assembly plant. Future prospects foresee a potential market for electric cars of around 60,000 units per year.
Does Ecuador have the level of human capital and technological expertise to implement such a project?
In this context, Nissan has already offered to the Ecuadorean government to train local technicians on new technologies within the automotive industry, including electric technologies. I think the challenge could come from how to link such an offering with the development of the city of Yachay, because I believe that would be the ideal framework to make the offer come true. Renault has also made such an offer to the authorities, and we have to highlight that this offering does not only apply to research, but to the final consumer, too.