SEBASTIÁN FIGUEROA

Spain 2021 | INDUSTRY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sebastián Figueroa, General Manager of Scania Ibérica, about the Spanish market, demand from the agricultural sector, and sustainability strategies for the company going forward.

The group began operations in 1891, operates in more than 100 countries, and has become a leader in its segment in Spain. How has Scania evolved in Spain?

We have evolved from Scania Spain and Portugal, with private capital, to Scania Ibérica. Nevertheless, in Spain 50% of the commercialization network is private. However, Portugal's distribution and retail are 100% Scania, while Spanish retail is 50% Scania and 50% private. This has changed as a result of client requests. Currently, all the technology of a vehicle requires the brand to be more present. For example, one of our current trucks has four computers, so we must be connected to the central control unit and monitor the process in the event of an emergency. All this technology has been under development for 10 years. In addition, the current client knows the transport well, and we provide them with fleet availability. We are introducing new technologies such as electric and gas trucks, and that needs a brand presence to monitor and use and train drivers. All this has allowed us to become more client focused. Next, we will focus on infrastructure.

What main services and products do you offer in Spain?

The main services are the new truck division, which has the highest turnover. We also offer urban, commuter, and long-distance buses and industrial engines, which, in terms of services, make up 30% of our turnover. The size of the company expands with the market. During the pandemic, because we had such a well-developed service system, we had no downtime. For example, comparing 2020 to 2019, we were at similar levels in terms of revenue. We only saw a 30% reduction in new trucks' revenue, though the other divisions remained the same. The objective of Scania is to accompany client activity, which is why we put in a significant amount of effort into our services. We seek to offer the best on the market in terms of products and services. We also focus on sustainability. All our plants are sustainable and, in one year, we will have solar panels.

In terms of sectors, who are your main clients?

In the Iberian market, our main clients are long-distance distributors. In Spain, there is a great deal of agricultural industry. Transport across Europe is ongoing; therefore, we are taking products all over Europe, translating into thousands of kilometers driven.

What strategy did Scania implement to mitigate the impact of the pandemic?

Our business plan for 2020 was to grow, though we had to modify and change the structure in order to overcome the pandemic. We had to determine if the entire fleet would remain the same or be reduced. At first, it dropped 5% along with buses. In terms of strategies, we extended leasing and renting in close collaboration with clients. We did not have any type of layoffs, so we were able to maintain similar levels of activity. We have adapted well to the pandemic and expect to have a solid ratio of people vaccinated by summer. This will generate more tourism and, therefore, increase transportation services. Currently, the trend in transportation is already up two to three points from the non-pandemic months of 2020. In addition, on a production level we have a sales estimate of 3,080 trucks for 2021. The positive thing is that we offer an essential service—transportation—and do not depend as much on teleworking as other companies dedicated to other services.

What is your strategy in terms of sustainability? How will your new center differ from your existing ones?

In all retail centers, we will measure electricity consumption for a year in order to determine exactly how much we need. In the new facility that we will build in Madrid, we will work alongside the distribution company, the training center, retail and service operations, and the communication center for the entire Iberian Peninsula. That equates to 40,000sqm. In these centers, we will conduct electrical consumption tests and analyze the investment plan to install solar panels. We want to determine the investment that is most convenient for us, bearing in mind the center in which we will install them. Once we have carried out the corresponding analysis of each center, we will start a bidding process for the use of clean technology. We already have solar panels for hot water consumption, but the workshop operates 12 hours per day and consumes large amounts of electricity. Therefore, we must choose the company that best suits our needs. This is not only in Madrid but across all the brand houses in order to become more sustainable.

Another notable novelty of the Scania facilities is the creation of a connectivity center. What is the importance of innovation for Scania?

Connectivity is mostly about knowing where a truck is and how much it consumes. We have been developing connectivity for 20 years and have reached a level of innovation in which the system informs us of any failure in a vehicle. Through this, we can repair vehicles with minimal inconvenience. In addition, we offer 24-hour assistance. The most important thing in terms of connectivity is that the truck interacts with the client. For example, it tells you whether to brake or accelerate. Then, we collect this information and analyze it to verify that all parameters are being met. When these parameters are not met, training is conducted. Although sometimes we have cases in which a client does not want us to have that control, they must accept it so we are able to provide a better service. There are two effects, which are truck care and client benefit. In Spain and Portugal, we have a 55% compliance with these parameters and we want to increase this to 80%. Every 10 points supposes one liter of fuel, so it ends up benefiting us and the client. We must continue to innovate in terms of technology to improve the transport of the future.

What are the main objectives of Scania?

We want to adapt ourselves to the post-pandemic world and study how to adapt to the new technologies in the market, new regulations, and the needs of clients and, in addition, continue monitoring these technologies.