Marco Ribera
Senior Corporate Manager Environment & Safety
Nissan Mexicana
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Smart Energy Use Burnishes Brand

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 13:06

Q: What role does energy play in increasing the competitiveness of Mexico’s automotive industry?

A: Nissan Mexicana has experienced significant growth in the past few years and energy and sustainability are among the main factors that have contributed to our success. Our energy and sustainability strategies have impacted positively on competitiveness, reducing our operational costs and adding value to our corporate image in the national and international markets. We also expect the Energy Reform to contribute positively to our competitiveness and that of the Mexican automotive industry in general but we believe we will see its effects in the medium to long term. We are in a transition period, with many regulations still to be defined so the market can be fully operational, but we are already considering the new market conditions to ensure we remain competitive in energy usage and operational costs, always with sustainability in mind. We are analyzing access to different clean energy sources and new technologies in Mexico, both in line with the new regulatory framework.

Q: What is behind the company’s heavy investment in sustainability?

A: Sustainability is included in different aspects of Nissan’s global business plan called Nissan Power 88. The fourth pillar of our strategy is being a leader in emissions reduction. The sustainability part of our strategy is included in Nissan Green Program, which we are also implementing in Mexico. We have a global goal of reducing our CO2 emissions 21 percent by 2020 in comparison with our 2005 levels. Nissan Mexicana has already doubled this goal, reducing its CO2 emissions by 54 percent from 2005. Our emissions reduction strategy was based on two main pillars, reducing the amount of energy consumed per manufactured vehicle and integrating renewable energies into our energy supply mix. We are the most efficient overseas manufacturing subsidiary of Nissan regarding energy usage, even compared with plants in Japan and the US. Regarding renewable energies, we have a wind farm and a biogas plant producing energy from urban waste, which also distinguishes us from our global peers.

Q: What has been Nissan Mexicana’s experience using renewable energies?

A: Nissan Mexicana owns three manufacturing plants in Mexico. Our Aguascalientes A1 plant sources 68 percent of its energy from renewable sources but considering our total consumption, renewables represent between 30 and 32 percent. Since we started using renewable energies in 2013, we have manufactured more than 700,000 vehicles using wind energy. That means that of all Nissan’s subsidiaries, we are the one that has manufactured the most vehicles with lower CO2 emissions. Biogas represents 4.1 percent of the energy consumption at our Aguascalientes A1 plant, the largest biogas usage in any of Nissan’s plants globally.

Q: What is the main challenge large energy consumers such as Nissan Mexicana face in the new market?

A: The major challenge is to understand the new market rules and the transition period. Companies also need to align their strategies to the legal requirements and understand the new time frames and the contracting schemes for energy projects. One concern is the impact that exchange rates and fossil fuel prices will have on energy tariffs, especially given that the Mexican energy system is strongly reliant on fossil fuel.

We are operating under the former regulatory framework but we are not inexperienced using alternative energy sources to CFE’s supply. In fact, we have over 10 years’ experience using different energy supply schemes. We are analyzing different supply options, including PV solar and cogeneration, but we have not made any decisions yet. The fact that we have been pioneers in using alternative energy sources to CFE’s supply make us less vulnerable to market changes. We have a multidisciplinary team with expertise in different areas such as financing, technology, manufacturing, investment and supply chain, which comes in handy when coping with new industry challenges.