How does consumer demand for vehicles in Mexico differ from other countries?
Mexico has seen a rapid change and development in the segment in the last 20 years. Europe and North America are where the change first happens, but Mexico is leading the LATAM region. Someone coming here will find a developed and sophisticated country and customers. Mercedes-Benz was the first luxury brand in Mexico when it entered in 1993, and we were thrilled because we sold 263 cars that first year. In 2018, Mercedes-Benz Mexico sold roughly 20,000. We have seen significant growth, and the customer profile has also changed. They have become more knowledgeable and demanding, not only of the quality, technology, and servicing of the vehicles, but also in terms of their ecological expectations and the interconnectivity and gadgets they expect in a car.
How did sales in Mexico in 2018 compare to previous years?
We sold 20,000 cars in 2018, which represents a growing volume. It is also significant for us because for a few years, even with small volumes, Mercedes-Benz was the number-one brand in the luxury car market. We lost this position for a few years but recovered it in 2017. In both 2017 and 2018, we were number one in the luxury segment. Our team and dealer network are proud and pleased with the work we have done.
What is the next step in terms of continuing to improve your service and surprising your customers?
That is a challenge because everyone knows the car and the name; a brand is not just advertising and marketing, but a promise. One promise we have made for 133 years is innovation. We always say we were born innovating and with the best quality, which is a promise Mercedes-Benz has kept. That is what customers expect and want when they buy our cars. We continuously innovate and evolve. In addition, someone who bought one of our cars in the 1950s or 1960s expects the same level of service, support, and commitment from us. We have both a heritage and innovation that reflects not only in what we do in the future and our forward-looking cars, but also with all the respect and support for our legacy vehicles. Customers always expect more, and new concepts and gadgets are constantly raising the bar. Furthermore, customers have more points of reference and can research different possibilities and options. We have to be ready to over-deliver.
What are your operational outcome objectives for 2019?
We have two main goals. One is to maintain our number-one position in terms of sales. Second, we have to further strengthen our service support, establish a standard, and surpass it every time. After all, this is Mercedes-Benz. We are in a transitional period where we are bringing in new models to the market, including hybrid and electric cars, among others. We have to ensure our whole global network works with us to support these new products. There is a big expectation of service. Mercedes-Benz is a synonym for service and quality, which is what we will focus on in 2019.
What strategies is Mercedes-Benz using to adapt to the needs of younger generations?
About 20-30 years ago, there were only four Mercedes-Benz models, and the lifetime of those was seven to 10 years. Everyone was pleased with that. Today, in comparison, we have a huge portfolio of around 30 models, and each has two or three versions. Not only is there a breadth of portfolio, but the younger generation has also grown impatient. They want everything quickly and get bored quickly. Now we have to present new improvements in our models every two or three years.