Q: What have been the highlights of 2014, and how did the year compare with 2013?
A: During 2013, clients were hesitant to buy our products, but in 2014 they started to purchase again. Our success can be attributed to the support services that we offer to our dealers and customers. Isuzu’s main strategy is to take care of its customers. A few years ago, our customers had contracts with other corporations, but they have since returned to our brand. In terms of trucks, the best-selling model of 2014 was the ELF 300. Most of the trucks were sold to our fleet customers for transportation and payload purposes, given that it is the most suitable model for this kind of application. All of our models from the ELF and the Forward series offer the same value and are attractive trucks that offer substantial fuel efficiency. We also offer the Eco-Day program on the second Saturday of every month, where we instruct operators on how to properly use their units and how to handle the transmission. Being diesel engines, these trucks should not be used in the same way as gasoline engines; otherwise they will not achieve their highest fuel and power efficiency.
Q: Last year, Isuzu introduced the 600-Bus line to Mexico. What led to the company’s sudden interest in this market?
A: We only offer six truck models and we do not have any interest in manufacturing larger or smaller buses. The only product that we are marekting within this segment is the ELF 600-Bus. We know the challenges of this business and our limits in terms of resources, which is why we are taking this step by step. Most of the clients end up buying the ELF 600- Bus after a test drive. That is why the best way to sell this vehicle is to let the customers drive it and feel the difference.
Q: What are the most common characteristics that you look for in your potential clients?
A: Since 2012, we have not changed our target market, since we do not have any interest in addressing the public transportation market. This market is usually price driven and we do not have the capacity to supply an enormous amount of units at the same time. We do not want to take on that kind of risk, which is why our market remains with schools, hospitals, personal transportation, and shuttle buses. Those segments and the operators working within them understand how we work and how we offer our services. We are currently showing these vehicles in our dealerships in Pachuca, Monterrey, Cancun, Tepic, Culiacan, and Tijuana, and the feedback that we are receiving is always the same. We focus on making our products really different from the competitors, while also offering better design and fuel economy. We are thinking of adding a new bus to our line-up but there are still no concrete plans.
Q: Isuzu also introduced a heavier vehicle, how is this truck positioned in the market and what share are you expecting?
A: At the moment, we are not thinking about a specific market share, given that the market is relatively new to us, which is why we have released our models progressively, and we expect to continue doing this on a yearly basis. Generally speaking, the tendency nowadays is to downsize products and strive for fuel efficiency. In that aspect, we have received positive feedback from our clients, especially since we are the only brand in this segment that offers a 4-cylinder 5.2l engine. Usually, a 6-cylinder engine is more popular, but being more compact means that our engine is lighter and more powerful, allowing operators to carry a heavier load.
Q: What are Isuzu’s main priorities and targets for the rest of 2015?
A: We are going to focus our efforts on support services and letting the Mexican people know about Isuzu. When I came here three years ago, I saw that there was potential to increase the number of Isuzu vehicles on the road because of the lack of brand recognition. Our trucks have better visibility and maneuverability compared with other vehicles, and we need to show visiting customer and available prospects the advantages of our products. During 2012, we reached total sales of 20,000 vehicles, while by the end of 2015 we expect to achieve total sales of 36,000 units since 2005. Last year marked a solid year for sales, but we did not do as well as we had originally anticipated, which was true for the entire heavy vehicle industry. In terms of new designs and innovations, our cabin in the Forward series is already the biggest in its category, and we are planning to introduce an even bigger one. This means that operators are going to be more comfortable and their fatigue will be reduced.