Claudio de la Peña
Commercial Director
Daimler Mexico
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View from the Top

Leading the Market Toward Greater Efficiency

By Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 03/11/2021 - 05:00

Q: What allows Daimler to keep its position as Mexico’s market leader in the commercial vehicles segment?

A: The first element is technology. Daimler is a leader in technological innovation. The second element is service, which goes hand in hand with technology as we support it through aftersales operations. Third, our added value, which encompasses the strength of our dealership network, our financial branch, as well as our corporate structure. All of this is possible because the customer is right at the center of our strategy. A company cannot thrive if it does not have active feedback from its customers. They are strategic in any decision.

Q: Commercial vehicles enjoyed a better performance than light vehicles up to 2H19. What factors accelerated the subsequent decline in the sales cycle for commercial vehicles?

A: The pandemic was a major factor that impacted commercial vehicle sales. Around 33,000 units are sold in a regular year but we will be closing 2020 with around 23,000 units. Recovery will be gradual rather than exponential. The pandemic also influenced imports, exports, different models and changes in distribution channels, such as e-commerce. All of these elements are reflected in commercial vehicles, which are closely related to the economy’s performance. If a country’s economy grows, we see a spillover effect in commercial vehicles. We pay close attention to economic sectors that are best-performing and under-performing to design our strategies. The correlation between different economic sectors and the performance of commercial vehicles is really clear.

Q: How has the pandemic influenced your strategies?

A: We came to realize that it was time for a paradigm shift in transportation and commercial vehicles. This is not only about using digital channels but also going beyond aftersales services in times of crisis. We changed our organizational structures in all departments.

Empathy is essential because we are part of an essential activity. During the pandemic, we established the “Paraderos” initiative in Puebla and Queretaro where we delivered health kits and gathered primary information about how the pandemic was influencing our clients’ routines. We remained flexible regarding financial schemes, as well. Together, we co-designed strategies to help clients through the crisis.

We have learned that we need to act fast. In pre-pandemic times, a project that implied transferring most activities to home office would have taken years but we did it in a matter of days. We were surprised at how agile we are. The pandemic was without a doubt a life-changing experience for everyone.

Q: How does Daimler technology address customer needs?

A: There are three important elements. First, our own powertrain is present in all our vehicles, which deliver the best operational costs in the sector. This is not only about performance. Aftersales value is also key for operational costs, implying reasonable maintenance times. Brand warranties can also drive significant savings. The market is reducing the cycle at which companies renew their vehicles. Thus, clients see a value in a commercial vehicle that maintains its resale value. Our technology also enables the powertrain to increase profitability for our customers.

The second element is connectivity. The pandemic has stressed the importance of being connected. Connectivity started for us with telematics and finding hard data about the vehicle’s performance. Today, it is about efficient telematics, meaning how the system can process the data and provide meaningful insights for decision-making processes, including predictive maintenance. Having robust systems to build those information cells is essential.

The third element in our technological developments is safety. We need to take care of the sector’s reputation, including operators and companies. Daimler is focused on the development of all kinds of safety systems to prevent accidents. As a brand, we are launching in 2021 a change in our lane detection system. If the operator is forced to change lanes for any reason, the vehicle can make corrections to avoid an accident. An unfortunate accident can affect the community and the operator, which is why safety is at the core of our technological developments.

Q: What is your perspective regarding commercial autonomous vehicles?

A: Daimler is riding the autonomous wave. However, these vehicles demand responsibility and infrastructure. As a brand, we are on the path to increasing levels of autonomy while we acknowledge that the operator remains the one who makes the last call behind the wheel. Thus, autonomous vehicles are strongly related to operator training. It is a matter of how we match the man with the machine. Our vision is to incorporate greater levels of autonomy while solving the challenge of how we accompany the operator on their journey.

Q: NOM-044 brought new environmental standards to the Mexican market. How is it influencing the market?

A: Just as economic factors influence the commercial vehicle market, regulatory affairs also play an important role in Daimler’s development. There are still gray areas in the schedule that NOM-044 will follow regarding its implementation. That said, we remain receptive to federal and local government guidelines on the matter. Our responsibility is to be prepared technologically for the moment the new regulation is activated. In parallel, by the time NOM-044 was announced, we already had EURO V models in our portfolio. The full application of the norm will come as ultra-low-sulfur diesel becomes more available. There are also local needs. For instance, in the Mexico City metropolitan area, due to environmental regulations, customers have already demanded the newest technologies to lower emissions. These signals also come from the market. Again, it is not only the sale but the aftersales service for our customers. We must accompany the market on its journey toward greater efficiency.

Q: How is Daimler helping its clients during the plating process amid the pandemic?

A: New plating and plating renewals remain a pending issue but we are addressing it through close communication with local authorities. We were aware of the restrictions and reduced capacity of the SCT. ANPACT led the effort to enable close communication channels. There were multiple efforts in different states to create alternatives to accelerate the process. We created a specific team to conduct follow-up with our customers and dealerships to assure efficiency. Let us not forget that resources are limited during a sanitary contingency like the pandemic and we need to set priorities.

 

Daimler Trucks is one of the two heavy-vehicle divisions of Daimler Group in Mexico. The company builds Freightliner trucks at its Saltillo and Santiago Tianguistenco assembly plants and has a network of 87 dealerships.

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst