Martin Josephi
CEO
Grand Chelem
/
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Grand Chelem: Mexico’s Exotic Vehicle Dealer

By Alejandro Enríquez | Wed, 04/21/2021 - 06:00

Q: What have been Grand Chelem’s recent milestones?

A: We have been looking to consolidate our market leadership. Notably, Lamborghini and Aston Martin are among the best-performing brands, particularly with the arrival of the Urus and DBX models. Another milestone is that we acquired a participation in a group of Jaguar Land Rover dealerships. Consequently, we opened a dealership in Insurgentes Sur in Mexico City, next to Lamborghini. We also opened a shop in Parque Lira for Jaguar Land Rover and we are about to open a new dealership in Polanco. This brand opens opportunities for because it is not as niche as exotic cars while remaining very exclusive and high-end.

We have also been focused on used vehicles. Iconic Broker has become the undisputable leader in the used exotic vehicle market. Last year, we sold around 125 used exotic cars, which is remarkable. We also opened Grand Chelem’s armoring branch, called STARKE, which is German for strength. Overall, I am confident in our successful diversification efforts. Although we are not focused on adding more brands, we are adding greater value to our operations. We are strengthening our presence in our niche, offering a broad portfolio.

Q: What was the effect of the pandemic on the exotic car niche?

A: The pandemic did have an impact. In new vehicle sales, the months when the exchange rate was around MX$24 saw sales decline. However, our used vehicle branch, Iconic Broker, reported outstanding results. Most of these vehicles are sold in pesos so with the exchange rates they became more attractive. Looking back at 2019, it was also a really great year for new vehicle sales, particularly for Lamborghini with the Urus. The first half of 2020 was complicated due to the pandemic but 2H20 showed a strong recovery and we expect 2021 to be just as good as 2019.

Q: You have highlighted the importance of customer experience through exclusive events. How did this transform amid the pandemic?

A: It was complicated. Uncertainty prevailed, given the lockdown measures, and we had fewer trips and events than what we are used to, particularly abroad. In 2021, we expect a similar scenario. Virtual experiences do not work as well for us because driving our cars is an exciting element for our customers. That being said, most of the brands we offered had virtual launches for new models and vehicles. On a positive note, lockdowns helped us because instead of being homebound, our customers preferred to go for a ride in their exotic vehicles. That gave our sales a little boost and allowed us to do drives with customers in smaller groups.

Q: How are exotic cars evolving in terms of connectivity and technology?

A: We have a broad vehicle offering and each brand is different. Connectivity is a must for most brands, although we are talking about infotainment systems rather than driving assistance. It is important to make that distinction. On the one hand, the vehicle is becoming an extension of drivers’ devices. However, when it comes to autonomous vehicles, most of our customers do not want to drive those. In our segment, they want to drive the car and not to be driven by the car. What brands like Lamborghini are doing is using these technologies to help the driver improve their performance, particularly on the track.

Some super-sports vehicles are in fact electric and ADAS systems are focused on performance. If we talk about Jaguar Land Rover, all of their newest products have unique features in terms of connectivity. Now, brands like Caterham and Morgan offer a pure driving experience with zero assistance systems and connectivity, which is better suited for the track. The automotive industry is moving toward autonomous vehicles and connectivity but our niche is different and each brand bets on its own unique experience.

Q: What are the most important lessons learned from the pandemic?

A: One of the most important is liquidity. Some companies or customers were not in their best moment when the pandemic hit, which had an impact on liquidity. Even though crises are temporary, they remind us that there are some elements that cannot be neglected.

Another major lesson was to have a balanced and diversified portfolio. For us, the used vehicle business really helped us to deliver a good performance in 2020, since pre-owned cars in Mexico are priced in Pesos as opposed to new cars which are sold in USD. Overall, we were affected by the pandemic, not only because of the demand and exchange rates but also due to the vehicle offer. At the global level, production of Aston Martin stopped for around five months, for example.

Q: What are Grand Chelem’s plans for the future?

A: We are focused on consolidating the work we have done over the past few years. Lamborghini and Aston Martin are hogging the spotlight regarding upcoming deliveries with orders received during H2 2020 and the first months of 2021. Aston Martin will also soon start deliveries of its special edition Valkyrie, which was presold a few years ago. We also sold a Lamborghini Sian, as well as other vehicles for other brands that have yet to be delivered. At the same time, we will strongly focus on our new Jaguar Land Rover venture.

In terms of our geographic scope, we have achieved important milestones, as well. Through our armoring company STARKE and Iconic Broker, we opened a location in Puebla in mid-2020 and we are about to open new locations in Guadalajara and Monterrey. We will have three new locations in other cities, in addition to our three existing Mexico City branches in Santa Fe, Polanco and Insurgentes Sur.

We are proud to have become the No. 1 player in the exotic market niche in the country. We will exploit our position and advance our strengths. The volumes we have reached show promising results, especially for Aston Martin and Lamborghini.

 

Grand Chelem, is a group that distributes Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Caterham, Morgan, Rimac, RUF, Koenigsegg, and VUHL brands in Mexico. The company has its own preowned brand: Iconic Brooker.

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst