Eduardo Henkel
Director General
Rolls-Royce México
View from the Top

Mexico Warming to the Luxury Market

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 11:55

Q: What led to you entering the luxury dealership business and applying your expertise to the Mexican market?

A: In 1986, I acquired Grupo Bavaria and Turbo Carrera, which were the previous importers of BMW and Porsche vehicles, respectively. As an automobile aficionado, I made the decision to buy these companies when I heard about their impending closure, thus acquiring the rights to import both brands. During that time, we struggled to make sales, so we focused more on providing technical service for the few existing customers in the country. We continued with this business model up until 1992 when we started to import BMW motorbikes. When I realized that the automotive market was going to open up in 2004, I decided to invite BMW to Mexico. This was no easy task given the conditions the company had to meet in order to operate an assembly plant in the country, such as a 32% local content requirement. In the end, BMW decided to open an assembly plant in Lerma, but when the frontier opened in 2004, BMW no longer needed an assembly plant and transformed it into an armored vehicle plant. The auto parts market also grew in 2004 and BMW made deals with many auto parts suppliers in the country. BMW has since announced the construction of a new plant in San Luis Potosi.

Q: What factors led to the opening of Mexico’s first RollsRoyce branch?

A: BMW, the owner of Rolls-Royce, requested that I become the distributor of the brand in Mexico. We started importing cars in 2007 and sold them through Grupo Bavaria in Mexico City, but, after the launch of the Rolls-Royce Ghost, we decided that it was time to open a dedicated RollsRoyce dealership. To best target the Mexican market we established a showroom on the corner of Campos Eliseos in the capital, which enabled us to be closer to our customers. This is a privileged position for us, given that it is a very busy street, really close to the hotels in the area. Our location enables us to reach the local market, as well as customers from other Mexican states. There is still room for development in the country, given its economic profile. The obstacles impeding our current sales are the slow growth of the economy and the security deficiencies that have not yet been resolved. However, there is still a great opportunity for development in Mexico’s luxury market.

Q: Which Rolls-Royce models are currently available to purchase in Mexico?

A: We offer all Rolls-Royce models, but due to the size and exclusivity of the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the model has to be specially ordered. We have some units in stock of the Rolls-Royce Ghost and the Rolls-Royce Wraith, but the client can also order them with customized specifications. We offer our customers the opportunity to design their own vehicle, with the features they want and the colors they like. However, the Mexican public prefers to see what they are going to buy, so out of every three cars that we sell, only one is custom made. We are currently extending to our customers an invitation to visit our UK plant, where they can arrive in one of our vehicles and have a go at designing their own car. This has proved to be an attractive incentive and some Mexican clients have accepted the offer.

Q: What is the general profile of a Rolls-Royce customer?

A: Back when we only stocked the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the vehicle was directed to customers that would sit in the back while they were driven by their chauffeurs. However, when we launched the Rolls-Royce Ghost and the RollsRoyce Wraith, they were targeted to proud and successful younger clients who were going to enjoy driving the car. Aside from that, buying any Rolls-Royce is like buying a work of art; the wood, leather, and paint, inside and out, represent an extremely intricate manufacturing process. Additionally, thanks to the BMW engineering, our cars have enough power and performance to make them attractive to any driver. They are fun and fast cars, capable of reaching the same speed or even more than any BMW.

Q: What are the main goals of Rolls-Royce Mexico during the next few years?

A: Rolls-Royce is a brand that does not need to exhaust many resources on marketing; many magazines are reaching out to us, either to be on their covers or to write articles about the cars. Also, many luxury brands outside the automotive industry have contacted us to promote their own products along with Rolls-Royce. Even so, we are planning to increase our sales by being a lot more aggressive in the luxury market, particularly now that the economy is starting to improve.