Testing the Waters to Expand Battery ReachFri, 09/01/2017 - 10:52
Q: How has Exide positioned itself in the Mexican market against its competitors?
A: Our share is small compared to the actual size of the Mexican market and our potential market share. To date, we hold around 2 percent but we see many opportunities in the country, particularly in the original equipment segment and the aftermarket.
Q: What are the main strategies that Exide is following to expand the brand in the local market?
A: Both the light-vehicle and heavy-vehicle segments are important for our positioning strategy. We have experience and presence in the heavy-vehicle market but in the lightvehicle market we still have room for growth and to extend our presence. Exide has considered moving part of its production to Mexico. We are conducting feasibility studies but to make this decision we must consider our global partners, the size of the market and several other factors before investing. There is a general agreement in Exide that a presence in the country would be beneficial, with local production and local development, rather than just distribution.
Q: What segment is Exide’s priority market in Mexico?
A: Exide’s current priority is the aftermarket. We like that the segment sees quick response times and we have laid solid foundations to increase our participation in this sector. Original equipment is also an important market for us even though it involves a longer work cycle, wherein market conditions such as product approvals and investments in production lines can delay operations. Developing our aftermarket participation remains part of the company’s medium to long-term strategy. To do so, we need to double our service and support efforts. When the company first established operations in Mexico, we were heavily invested in national distribution services. Now we need to develop services and support for both our distributors and wholesale clients.
Q: What differentiates your premium products from other brands’ offerings?
A: The production process of batteries has two critical stages. The first is related to the internal construction of the battery and its components, which is the most critical stage, and the second stage is its formation process. We pay close attention to the quality of both steps. Exide has existed for 128 years and we are leaders in the development of new technologies. We have been producing start-stop vehicle technology for over 60 years, though this remains largely unknown and represents a small market share. Nevertheless, our constant innovation and generation of new technologies has helped us to create reliable and stable products.
Q: What level of importance has Exide given the hybrid and electric car market?
A: Over the years, we have made and continue to make investments in R&D for the hybrid and electric vehicle market, and products for these vehicles have been released in Europe. We are closely monitoring market trends and doing what we can to develop the market through work at our two research centers, in Germany and in the US.
The global automotive industry has yet to define its future path regarding battery technology for green vehicles, moving away from lead acid batteries. The short-term future of the automotive industry involves the development of hybrid technology. We believe that this kind of technology has room for improvement and many companies will invest in this segment in the next few years.
Q: What are your growth expectations for the distribution segment?
A: We need to work together with our distribution networks so they can prepare for our growth. In some regions, our network will have to grow and become more professional. Our distribution efforts will focus on developing commercial presence with independent distributors, some retailers and some national accounts. Working with retailers is probably our best bet because of the sales volume they manage.