Miguel Barbeyto
President
Mazda México
/
View from the Top

Mazda México Innovates but Remains True to its Essence

By Antonio Gozain | Fri, 05/13/2022 - 12:00

Q: How have Mexican consumer preferences changed in recent years?

A: In Mexico, consumers are increasingly becoming more digital and have realized that the most important thing in life is time. Before the pandemic, Mazda was beginning to digitalize its sales but since March 2020, we have accelerated this process and focused all our efforts in that direction.

The digital strategy not only focused on sales but also on our aftersales service. Mazda gives its clients the choice to schedule maintenance appointments online and we collect the vehicle at the client’s home or office, take it in for maintenance and return it. This digital revolution was already happening but the pandemic accelerated it.

However, most Mexicans like face-to-face contact. While digital tools play an important role, most clients still prefer to visit the dealership, have direct contact with the salesperson, feel the car, smell and touch it. Mazda México is implementing a hybrid model and it is working out well.

Q: What does Mazda México’s current product portfolio look like?

A: In the subcompact segment, Mexico’s largest, we offer the Mazda2 sedan and hatchback. Then, the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback and the MX-5, a two-seater roadster for enthusiasts. In the SUV segment, we offer the CX-3 and CX-30 in the small range. In the medium and large range of SUVs, we offer the CX-5 and CX-9, respectively.

Although Mazda has a presence in almost all segments, we do not participate in the Mexican pick-up market, which is big in the country.

Q: After 17 uninterrupted years in the Mexican market, how does Mazda3 continue to perform?

A: Mazda3, one of our most iconic vehicles, has become a case study. While most of the automotive market is migrating toward SUVs, Mazda3 remains in a solid position and people continue to like it. Although the sedan segment overall is declining, Mazda3 continues to increase its market share, with a fifth of the segment.

Q: What role will Mazda’s Mild-Hybrid technology play within the Mexican market?

A: Mild-Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEVs) are Mazda’s first step toward electrification in Mexico. We launched the technology with Mazda2 in October 2021. In March 2022, we launched the Mazda3 sedan MHEV and the CX-30 MHEV.

Globally, Mazda continues innovating within HEVs, PHEVs, MHEVs and EVs. We have a strategy called Zoom-Zoom 2030. By that year, all our models will have an electrified version and aims to reduce the carbon emissions generated by Mazda to 50% by 2030

Q: How has Mazda maintained production in Salamanca over the past two years amid supply chain shortages and logistics issues?

A: Mazda2, Mazda3 and CX-30 are produced at our plant in Salamanca, Guanajuato. The past two years have been challenging. At first, we had the necessary supplies to manufacture new vehicles but there were no buyers. Now, there are numerous customers but there are not enough supplies to produce vehicles.

These have been two difficult years. However, Mazda’s great advantage is its agility within production lines. Not many brands have a similar agility. Mazda can produce from a Mazda2 to a CX-9 within the same production line. Our speed and flexibility also help the company to change the destination of production from one country to another in a fast, efficient manner to meet the demand of different markets.

Although production has dropped, we have optimistic projections for when the supply chain stabilizes. According to our five-year plan, Mazda will produce between 200,000 and 220,000 yearly units, from the 250,000 total capacity at Salamanca.

Q: Why is Mazda’s technology a competitive advantage for the brand?

A: Mazda has a robust global strategy to develop technology, engineering and manufacturing innovations that are different to those of our competitors. Mazda, which is a small multinational automaker with a 2 percent market share, cannot afford to make mistakes. Our engineers work from scratch to offer the best technological solutions within a tight budget.

Currently, we are seeing several alliances within the automotive industry. Many automakers have turned to Mazda to understand our tech, which ranges from the chassis to the body, that enables us to produce lighter, more efficient and sustainable vehicles.

Q: How is Mazda addressing the increasing degree of vehicle autonomy?

A: Mazda will not forget its DNA. We believe autonomous vehicles are a trend. For Mazda, the priority is the driving experience. However, the company continuously develops security systems to protect the driver, passengers and everyone else on the road. We are not investing in fully-autonomous vehicles but we are introducing some automations to increase safety.

Full-autonomy is difficult to achieve in most countries. Mazda seeks to create balanced, light vehicles with efficient engines and an appealing design.

Q: How is the automotive industry preparing for the future of mobility and car-as-a-service trends?

A: The industry is already late to these trends. Vehicles will no longer be important for the newer generations. They will not care about the means of transportation; the crucial thing will be mobility, although the preference will vary from one country to the next. For example, it is difficult to imagine living in the US without a car, considering its long freeways. However, in Mexico, ride-share services and vehicle subscriptions for certain time periods could work. The industry is late in the development of these solutions.

Another trend, which might sound too futuristic, is for urban mobility to be aerial. The ground is increasingly becoming saturated. Currently, only the richest people move in the air but in the future, this mode of transportation may become a reality for many.

Q: What are Mazda México’s plans for the next five years?

A: Mazda has ambitious global plans and the company sees Mexico as a country with a great deal of potential thanks to its manufacturing facilities and strategic location within the USMCA region. Despite all the challenges, Mexico remains a thriving economy.

In Mazda México’s best year, we had 4.9-5 percent market share. The goal is to double that in five years. Despite the current challenges within the automotive sector, Mazda will implement a comprehensive strategy, with a wider variety of products and an aggressive price strategy to grow our dealership network across the country. As we grow in Mexico, we will continue putting our clients at the center of our operations, always looking for their full satisfaction with our brand.

 

Mazda México is the local subsidiary of Japan-based Mazda Motor Corporation. In Mexico, the company has manufacturing operations in Salamanca, Guanajuato, where the Mazda2, Mazda3 and CX-3 are assembled.

Antonio Gozain Antonio Gozain Journalist and Industry Analyst