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VUHL: Mexican OEM Takes Lead in High-Performance Segment

By Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 04/01/2019 - 11:16

Q: How important are Mexican suppliers for Mexico’s only high-performance vehicle OEM?

A: More than half of the components used to assemble a VUHL car are built in Mexico, followed by 40 percent sourced from the UK. The remaining components are imported from the US, France, Germany and China. While we are strongly committed to Mexico, this does not mean that we are closed to using components from abroad if they are the best. Above all, VUHL is committed to developing the best high-performance vehicle, as demonstrated in the more than 600 improvements that we have made to our vehicles since the first generation of the VUHL 05. We remain a 100 percent Mexican brand powered by Mexican investments that employs Mexican workers. But, like any other OEM, we engage in international collaborations with companies abroad.

Q: What challenges has ETXE Diseño, VUHL’s parent, faced in its 12 years of operations?

A: ETXE Diseño has been present in the automotive industry for 12 years with engineering consultancy and design services. VUHL was developed and first launched as a vehicle brand in 2013 and it started delivering vehicles in 2015. Since then, we have focused on gaining the trust of the niche market where we operate. Several small OEMs pop up every year and usually disappear within a period of six months to two years, with less than 50 percent of them remaining after five years. Given this challenge, it was important for VUHL to demonstrate that we would endure with a solid financial basis and that we are committed to our brand, our customers, the dealers and the market.

The next challenge we faced was building trust in our image as a made-in-Mexico brand. Even though Mexico develops its own automotive technology, the country is generally not globally perceived as a source of new technologies. This makes it easier for potential customers to select a competing European high-performance vehicle before even considering a Mexican car. However, VUHL vehicles stand out as some of the fastest and best built cars in the market, which has enticed potential customers weary of trying a new brand.

Each country has a different perception of Mexico. European countries tend to see Mexico as exotic, which worked to our advantage when marketing vehicles among early adopters. The US market does not have the best opinion of Mexican products, so it is difficult for Mexican high-performance cars to be seen as the best option at first. We decided to put off targeting the US market until 2019, once early adopters had sent their message regarding our products’ performance. VUHL is now regarded as one of the best players in the high-performance niche, which means it is time to go to the US. We have now started delivering cars in the US and will start an active marketing campaign in California and Florida, which are the largest markets for these vehicles.

Q: How can Mexican OEMs grow their appeal in a market dominated by foreign brands?

A: Mexicans tend to prefer foreign products and it is hard to break that paradigm. However, Mexican carmakers need to remain in the market and continue delivering quality products to promote change. It took VUHL two years to break into the market but once we proved our quality, results came.

The main challenge that VUHL faced in changing this mindset was in delivering the best product for its niche as an unknown automotive brand. Our other business lines, mainly the engineering consultancy services and the carbon fiber production that we develop for the automotive and aerospace industries, enabled us to sustain the VUHL brand in its infancy. Our carbon fiber business will continue to grow in 2019 as we certify in AS9100 and ISO:9001.

Q: What is the next step to improve VUHL’s vehicle performance?

A: Lightweighting remains our priority; it is the main reason behind our vehicles’ performance. Our plan is to further optimize and implement additional technology to our current VUHL 05 model before launching a new car. At some point, the brand will take advantage of new technologies developed in the automotive industry and take a step toward electrification. All OEMs should be working on ways to electrify their lineup but evolution will depend on the maturity of battery technology, which is still too heavy for high-performance vehicles.

VUHL is a Mexican OEM based in Queretaro that produces ultra-lightweight, high-performance vehicles. The OEM is part of ETXE Diseño, a Mexican company that offers engineering consultancy and design services

Photo by:   MBP
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst