AUTOMOBILES

Panama 2018 | INDUSTRY | B2B

Despite a difficult year for growth, Panamanians' demanding tastes and high expectations mean that the automobile market is still robust.

Everst Figueroa
EVERST FIGUEROA
General Manager
Excel Automotriz
Anthony Salerno
ANTHONY SALERNO
Executive Vice-President
Bahía Motors

How have you developed in Panama in recent years?

EVERST FIGUEROA Excel Automotriz (Excel) is a part of Grupo Poma and is focused on the automotive sector, distributing more than 15 brands in the Central American region. The most relevant markets for Excel are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama. It has participated in the automotive sector in Panama since 2005 with the Mitsubishi and Fuso brands. As part of its growth strategy, it began to distribute the brand Nissan and Infiniti in 2012. Growth is consolidated based on customer satisfaction and a motivated team.

ANTHONY SALERNO Bahía Motors is a family business that was founded more than 20 years ago. Our main philosophy is to achieve sustainable growth in sales without neglecting our post-sales services. We want to focus on giving the customer an authentic, personalized service. We want to maintain a strong bond with our customers despite the growing ubiquity of automated and impersonal services. We are really open to feedback because we want to continuously improve, and the only way to do this is through our customers. Our present focus remains on being the best post-sales service provider in the industry. New disruptive technologies are changing the industry, but we are keeping abreast of all the new developments in this space and working to ensure that we can stay competitive. We have many projects taking place and launched a completely new ERP technology system in July 2018. We want to automate many of our processes without losing that personal touch that sets us apart. Our aim is to develop a seamless and simple portal through which customers can maximize their experiences.

Can you tell us about your products?

EF Each brand is important to our strategy. Nissan is the volume brand focused on pickups and the passenger segment, while Mitsubishi is a niche brand focused on SUVs. Fuso is oriented to the commercial area of trucks and buses, while Infiniti is the luxury brand. Overall, our strategy is based on three fundamental pillars: vision, passion, and people. We have clear objectives wherein the satisfaction of our client and happy employees have allowed us to be leaders in the markets where we have participated for more than 90 years. As far as growth goes, we project contraction between 5% and 8% this year since we are heading for elections and there has been a contraction in government purchases. But Excel is ready to face this type of situation because we are born and bred in Central America and have had to face and overcome situations like this for decades.

AS Panama is a strong economy with a strong purchasing power for vehicles. The market is segmented between sedans and SUVs in terms of vehicle popularity. The CRV is the most popular vehicle in these categories as it followed in the footsteps of the Odyssey in terms of technological change. The biggest changes in the Odyssey are the multimedia interface for the customer; Apple Car Play and Android Auto are important features for modern cars. There are two versions of the Odyssey technology system, the EXL and the Elite. The Elite version even includes a vacuum cleaner in the rear of the vehicle. Meanwhile, we have four versions of the CRV, ranging from a basic model at around USD28,000 to highly equipped models that cost USD38,000; it has been awarded as the best SUV in the market for two years.