Educating Engineers for the EV Revolution: Masare MotorsBy Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 04/20/2021 - 06:00
Q: How have your ambitious plans for Masare Motors University advanced?
A: We have been busy supporting younger generations of engineers to embrace electromobility. Last year, we inaugurated Masare Motors University, offering a specialization in electric and hybrid vehicles and two engineering degrees: one in automotive engineering and the other in mechatronics engineering. We have students in Tampico, Reynosa, Monterrey, Saltillo, Torreon and Guanajuato. This is our first generation. All of our students have a particular profile with a mindset of being a game changer for the sector, from design to material technology and sustainability.
From the very first semester, students learn about topics focused on electromobility. Moreover, many of our “professors” are not professors, as such, but business leaders, entrepreneurs and even experts from other countries. Another important element of our three-year program is our internships. We require our students to participate in an internship from Day 1 with companies with which we have alliances. This includes companies that are part of the supply chain or involved in vehicle sales. By the time they graduate, our students will already have three years of experience .
Q: What are the challenges and benefits of remote training?
A: Our methodology is based on digital learning and practical experience. Most of our curriculum features our own sources and content, including dissertations and other academic materials. Ninety percent of our students work, so we need to be flexible in terms of studying. We have partnerships with companies in different locations to help our students to start their internship easily. Most mentorship sessions with industry leaders worldwide are also online. We are convinced education needs to change. It should evolve and we need to make the best out of our global relationships with other countries and business leaders.
Q: On what other electrification projects is Masare Motors working?
A: We have worked with South American countries, including Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia, to reconfigure ICE vehicles into battery-powered units. They called it the “fit challenge.” Our goal is to convert trucks and vehicles in Mexico because the time for transformation is coming. Many countries across the world have set targets to stop selling ICE vehicles. In Mexico, we will have to wait between 10 to 15 years to see this. But when the time comes, what will happen with all those old vehicles? They will either become scrap, be recycled or converted to electric vehicles, which will also reduce carbon emissions. We are exposing our students to these technologies, including fuel-cell vehicles. We are training younger generations to be ready to take part in the electromobility value chain.
Q: How fast is this conversion trend advancing in Mexico?
A: There are several companies with projects to convert ICE vehicles into EV vehicles. Most of those projects are carried out by Mexican companies advised by foreign players. There are virtually no Mexican companies focusing on this opportunity, which can be particularly interesting for workshops since they already have all the tools to convert a vehicle.
An EV kit is the only thing necessary to convert a vehicle. These kits have an EV lithium-ion battery along with other accessories. The entry-level kit costs around US$9,000-US$10,000 and selecting the kit depends on the vehicle you are trying to convert. The heavier the vehicle, the more advanced the kit will be. We are partnering with Tier 1 companies focused on EV vehicles. Should the electrification trend accelerate, I am confident Mexico can start manufacturing these kits locally, instead of bringing them from China at high cost.
We are also teaching our students the sales element, which is an opportunity area for most engineers. Many good ideas never become a marketable product due to a lack of sales skills. Thus, part of our curriculum focuses on marketing and sales for students to be ready. Converting the vehicle is not the whole project. It also has to be refurbished and sold, similarly to how Tesla started.
Q: What has been the impact of the pandemic on the sales processes at dealerships?
A: Many dealerships focused on training during the pandemic. Before, there was a clear difference between the floor salespeople and the digital salespeople. Today, we advise our clients to consider them as one. The circumstances require companies and dealerships to attract unique talent because the sales profile is now unique, as it must include customer service, content creation, social media marketing, among many other skills. Dealerships should set aside a monthly budget for digital sales, including all the necessary equipment to do so.
Over the last year, we found that the Achilles’ heel for many dealers was the sales team. Companies focused greatly on training their team in digital marketing. Photographs and videos are essential, particularly in the used segment. A good picture generates more trust and consequently more quality leads. In 2020, we moved forward five years in digital sales; it was a year of great evolution. Dealerships now realize they need to design a particular strategy for different segments.
Masare Motors is a Mexican company focused on trading green vehicles, as well as strengthening dealership sales capabilities through training, digital sales strategies and stock relocation.