Bodybuilder's DNA Centered Around Product CustomizationTue, 09/15/2015 - 20:00
Q: How has Marcopolo progressed with its 20-25% growth objective for 2015?
A: From the year 2000 to 2008, Marcopolo reached 35% coach and urban market share, but when the financial crisis of 2009 came along, as well as some additional factors, that share decreased considerably. In 2014, while our goal was to hit 25%, our overall result was 21%. Despite that, we saw a significant improvement in the coach market, helping us close the year with 35% in that segment. This was thanks, in part, to the introduction of the G7, of which we sold over 400 units. Even so, we did not see any significant growth in our urban share, which is why our overall participation remained at 21%. For the rest of 2015, we will undoubtedly continue to promote our coach line. We have worked extensively on improving our industrial processes to increase our capacity, and we have made important investments in commercial strategies to expand our bodybuilding service. Moreover, in March we announced a more flexible business model, enabling us to build bodies with other chassis. Although we will continue to work with Daimler as partners, our strategy is to diversify our options, allowing us to work with other companies and giving us the power to regain our combined 35% market share. In addition, we are now making the necessary product modifications to increase our portfolio with products from Scania, MAN, Volvo, Volkswagen, and every other chassis manufacturer. This is the most important renovation project for Marcopolo since the company arrived in Mexico, and we see it as a new beginning for the company. Our DNA is completely wired toward product customization, and everything is in our favor to make this strategy work.
Given its non-standardized industrial process, Marcopolo has invested heavily in training, which in turn has increased our retention rate. This has given our workforce a lot of maturity within the company, while also preparing us to answer every need in terms of volume and product specifications. Our current portfolio goes from double-deckers, with 60-70 person capacities, to a 20-passenger minibus. Thanks to this new flexibility, we will be able to continue manufacturing our current product line, including special products like the BRT buses that we have built in Chile and Colombia, thus bringing our whole product line to the country.
Q: In order to provide that flexibility, how have you grown your manufacturing and production capacities since 2014?
A: Back in 2008, we achieved global production of 11,000 units, with 3,500 of them being manufactured in Nuevo Leon. After that year, we invested a lot of resources in our installations, and we have improved our processes ever since. We now have a total production capacity of 4,500 units, and we only need to recruit more operators to reach that mark.
Q: Which of your products represent the most successful and attractive offerings in the Mexican market?
A: Typically, our Torino urban bus has had the biggest success and the biggest sales volume. However, the G7 portfolio is growing substantially and it has been gaining ground within the market. For any product, there is a relative response depending on the market’s demand, which fluctuates from year to year. Therefore, we have an important philosophy to not produce in order to sell, but to sell in order to produce. This is a great advantage for our clients that want to customize the product from its inception. It is important to first create demand, and then increase your production portfolio accordingly.
Q: The industry is currently demanding more efficient and environmentally friendly buses. How does Marcopolo direct its R&D efforts toward these requirements?
A: Our top priority for every vehicle is weight reduction, but also maintaining the necessary structural strength, which is only possible by using special materials for their construction. If the bus weighs less, the need for engine power decreases and fuel consumption drops. The company also has an important environmental strategy that includes the necessity for all our materials to be recycled for future products. In addition, the design and aerodynamics are important points in our strategy as well, especially within the coach segment. Our research mostly targets reduction in the CX or drag coefficient, which determines the vehicle’s wind resistance. This coefficient is obviously at its lowest in race cars, but we have been able to lower it to 0.42 in our G7 line, which is an extremely low resistance in a vehicle of this size. We cannot impact the engine’s functionality, so we must continue to do our best in terms of design and bodywork.