Reconnecting Transport with UsersThu, 09/01/2016 - 20:59
Q: What changes are needed to improve Mexican urban transportation and what obstacles stand in the way?
A: Urban transportation has lost touch with the final user, focusing more on revenue by reducing fuel and maintenance costs. MASA’s goal is to change this model and offer a different product with added value for all the players in the transportation chain, including company owners, operators, the government, passengers, pedestrians and society in general. But this is difficult to achieve with vehicles that do not meet the specifications for the Mexican market. Furthermore, our current transportation system is far from comparable with systems in other countries, which also makes tourists wary of using our vehicles.
Our job is to show companies how they can improve without depending on third parties. We connect our users with financial institutions so they can go through this transition smoothly. This requires trust from financial institutions and turning an owner-operator into an established company is a difficult process. Therefore, we need the government to understand there is a need to shift from simple concessionary operations to fully established transportation entities. All companies need to take their obligation to offer good quality service onboard and source efficient and relatively new vehicles that comply with all regulations.
Q: How is MASA developing better technology for both the passenger and the operator?
A: Accessibility has been a priority. To make it easy for all passengers to board more comfortably, MASA eliminated the step up into its vehicles. We have worked hard on developing rear-engine units, which offer several benefits over front-engine vehicles. Even the window design contributes to a more pleasant ride, increasing light and allowing for a cleaner unit and more relaxed users. Safety is a high priority, such that all units now include on-board computers that measure the amount of fuel used on each trip, the operator’s driving style, the number of people on the bus and every stop made en route. This makes maintenance operations easier to foresee.
Companies sometimes use private buses to transport their blue-collar workers but top executives have no interest in these units because they do not offer anything extra for them. That is why new solutions like Uber are so popular. Although the service is a bit more expensive they offer added value to the customer. In my opinion, the only segment in Mexico that has really advanced is the coach division, where service quality is vital. Many other countries still have a long way to go in this transition but we are slowly detecting changes with technologies in Mexico, suchaslow-entrybusesandtheuseofdiesel-exhaustfluid.
Q: How will MASA manage its distribution network according to its new strategy?
A: We did not want to build our own distribution network because we would have had to invest heavily in infrastructure, just as KIA is doing. Therefore, we decided to outsource production and distribution to an established company, namely Volvo Group. Volvo’s experience in both the aftersales and aftermarket segments allows us to offer the best possible service to our clients. However, to have a different offering from Volvo or any other OEM in Mexico, we had to define our strategy in terms of our product, sales and financing solutions. Thus, MASA’s strategy is completely oriented to the dealer and to helping them generate strong business links and excellent revenues. Of course, this requires an investment from both parties. This is a challenge as well, since we have to make sure that our network can manage the business independently, which is why we slotted ourselves under the wing of a company that knows all the potential pitfalls.
Q: What are MASA’s goals for the Mexican market?
A: In terms of sales volumes, we want to achieve a 10 percent market share by 2019. This year we are closing with approximately 300 units and next year we expect another 410. In terms of private transportation, we have an excellent product but the market is still focused on number of seats rather than number of passengers. Each person has different needs and all buses have to adapt to these requirements, whether they are related to safety, comfort or even entertainment.