JAIME COHEN

Mexico 2020 | INDUSTRY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jaime Cohen, President & CEO of Mercedes-Benz Mexico, on the company's recent achievements, electric cars, and targeting the millennial market.

What were some of the biggest achievements of the company in 2019?

The biggest achievement was finally launching cars that are made in Mexico; after a thorough analysis we decided to go all in, and we are proud of it. The A Class Sedan and the GLB are fully built and assembled in Aguascalientes. So far, the new line has been well received by our customers. Our plan is to not just serve the Mexican market but also export to other markets. In particular, we are proud of the plant for the GLB line because it's the only such plant in the world. We have received great response from the local market.

How would you compare the performance of the company in 2019 in comparison to 2018?

In 2018, we were number one in the luxury segment while 2019 was a challenging year because we saw a drop in sales. The entire market experienced a drop, which affected our sales as well. Although our performance was not significantly lower, we started to see a shift in the trend, which often gives rise to a number of challenges. One of the reasons behind the drop in sales was the general economic environment in Mexico. There were some other reasons as well. For example, we stopped selling the smart brand in 2019. The overall business environment allowed us to focus on the service side, which is still the main relationship point for us and the customers. We launched a program called Amaze the Customer, under which we are rethinking the way we do things. It is important to question yourself because the world is constantly changing, and so are consumer habits and expectations. Changing an organization's culture is exciting, but it is also challenging because it a long process. It is one of our main goals for 2020 and beyond, and we are working on it.

What are your expectations for sales in 2020?

We are bringing in new products, such as the new E Class, most of our SUV´s model range will have a new generation like the: GLS, GLE and GLE Coupe and GLA, also on our AMG line will have some surprises, like the Mercedes-AMG A 35. We will continue improving our offering, introducing new products, and implanting new technology. Toward the end of 2020, we will introduce Mercedes-Benz' first full electric car, and we are extremely excited about that, the new EQC definitely will show the path into the future, this will require us to plan differently with our dealers in terms of spare parts and expertise. It will be challenging because it is a new segment for us, but at the same time, it is a segment with an exciting and promising future.

Is there a lot of demand in the Mexican market for electric cars?

There is a lot of eagerness because the public wants to protect the environment. At present, it is not the cheapest technology, so we have to work our way around to match the expectations. We do not have an exact date yet but the car will be released by the end of 2020. Notably, those interested in it can get more information about it because it is already being sold in Europe and North America.

What added value will the Mercedes EQ brand offer?

From the start, we worked maximizing every aspect of the Mercedes EQ, with the EQC model such as performance, luxury, quality, service, and design. Customers often complain about the odd look-and-feel of electric cars, but the EQC will boast a unique design that will respect the values of the brand.

What strategies is Mercedes-Benz employing to attract the youth?

It is a challenge because the needs and demand of the youth are changing rapidly. A few years ago, we introduced a new strategy with the new generation product line, the new Generation Compact Car segment as we call it . The refreshed line-up of these compacts with the A Class Sedan and the GLB are excellent examples of how to meet the needs of young people. The new GLB offers flexibility, which is something that is in high demand. Equally important, we are also offering a whole new platform with more apps and better connectivity so that young people can use the car as a fun gadget.

Are millennials one of your target segments in Mexico?

Yes, definitely. Our cars have all the features that millennials are looking for: Mercedes me or MBUX are just two examples. We are also in touch with this segment so that we can better satisfy the client's needs.

How has the company advanced toward its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2039?

We have an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2039. This will require a lot of work, which explains our focus on changing the organizational culture. It is a corporate-wide initiative and that means, as a global company, we are going through an important transformation. We are proud to be part of that and everything we do, will be geared toward meeting that target.