José Román
President
Nissan Mexicana and NIBU
/
View from the Top

Nissan Mexicana: A Legacy of Technology

By Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 08/03/2021 - 05:00

Q: What are Nissan’s priorities regarding carbon neutrality? What role do electric vehicles play in Mexico?

A: Globally, Nissan has announced that it will be carbon neutral by 2050. This showcases our commitment to the environment but also requires an improvement in vehicle technologies. One of the most important trends in the sector is electrification.

There are two different markets for electrified vehicles. In developed markets, such as the EU or the US, electrification will advance rapidly. Fully electric vehicles are a reality for them, while vehicle autonomy continues to increase. Our brand has a legacy in these technologies as Nissan LEAF has been in several markets for over 10 years.

In emerging markets, electrification will arrive in a different way. There are three key players in electrification: the customer, OEMs and the government, which is in charge of developing the necessary infrastructure for electrified vehicles. In emerging markets, we have the technology and there is a clear need for these kinds of vehicles but governments are not ready to massively invest in electrification – not because they don’t want to but because they have other priorities.

The best fit in terms of technology for markets such as Mexico is e-Power. Whereas hybrid vehicles have a big internal combustion engine and a small electric engine, e-Power has a larger electric motor that powers a small fuel engine.  e-Power provides additional benefits as it does not need to be plugged in and has the performance of an electric vehicle at all times. e-Power’s prices consequently remain considerably lower than a fully electric vehicle.

Q: What is your perspective regarding EV manufacturing in Mexico?

A: Nissan has the capacity to produce EV vehicles in Mexico. That being said, it is important to take consumer demand into account because our production is driven by the domestic and export markets. We are conducting a variety of studies but the domestic market tells us that there is still a gap to be filled in terms of EV demand.

Q: What is Nissan’s approach to the different levels of vehicle autonomy?

A: Nissan’s driving systems have led to significant breakthroughs. For example, the Altima and Maxima models already offer driver assistance systems that improve user experience. Technology is ready and improving and it will grow exponentially. The challenge is for countries and cities to implement the infrastructure and necessary legislation.

We often think that autonomous vehicle technologies are aimed at young people but humans live for over 80 years and the elderly might also need driver assistance. Autonomous driving will also arrive gradually in different markets. As a brand, we have invested in autonomous driving for many years. Vehicle cameras and sensors were incorporated into our models eight or seven years ago. What typically happens is that these technologies are first implemented in high-end models and gradually they are introduced to entry-level models.

Q: How is Mexico’s automotive market being influenced by global trends?

A: The automotive market operates in cycles. The sales cycle had reached its peak and was in a lower phase when the pandemic arrived. We already hit the vertex of the curve and now we are again moving upward. Mexico has the potential to sell 2 million units per year. In a regular year, we sell about 1.3 million units but it is possible to sell more. In 2020, we sold just below 1 million but for 2021 we forecast that sales will surpass 1 million. In a couple of years, we will reach 1.3 million again.

Sedans continue to be relevant for the Mexican market, while in the US and the EU the crossover 4x4 is becoming more prevalent. Vehicles are getting smarter but the most important changes depend on the government. City, state and federal governments need to start designing mobility strategies that involve public transportation, bicycles and traditional vehicles. It is an ecosystem that requires close collaboration between the private and public sectors.

 

Nissan Motor Corporation is part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Nissan Mexicana has been the top-selling brand in Mexico for 10 years straight. It has three manufacturing plants in the country, plus another dedicated to the INFINITI brand. In 2021, the brand is celebrating 60 years in the country..

Photo by:   Nissan Mexicana
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst