PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO -- Freightliner is maintaining an impressive 39% share of the Mexican commercial truck market as 2017 draws to a close — and is looking to build on that standing in 2018.
That’s according to Freightliner Mexico President and CEO Flavio Rivera, who spoke to North American trucking journalists at a press briefing here on Nov. 29.
Noting that Freightliner Mexico is in a unique market that faces challenges and competitors unknown north of the border in the United States, Rivera outlined the strategies the company is using to not only maintain its market share but also to expand its role as the truck “pacesetter” in Mexico going forward.
He began with an overview of Freightliner Mexico’s operations, which include a robust manufacturing presence in Saltillo and Santiago, as well as a proprietary dealership network. According to Rivera, Mexico is the eighth largest builder of trucks in the world today, and the fourth largest exporter of trucks globally. Additionally, he said the country is projected to build 5 million passenger cars over the next two years.
This potent manufacturing presence has kept the Mexican trucking industry strong, Rivera added, despite slowed growth in other key economic sectors, such as construction and oil fields. However, he was optimistic that the Mexican construction truck market would soon heat up again, citing major government infrastructure projects including the high-profile development of a new, ultra-modern airport as well as a key rail network connecting port facilities to Mexico City.
Rivera also noted that the unique realities of the Mexican market are prompting Freightliner Mexico to develop new models and strategies to maintain its competitive edge in the country. He said the top challenges include poor infrastructure, heavy congestion, and narrow, European-style streets.
On top of those concerns, Rivera added that Freightliner Mexico must also compete against 12 different truck manufacturers. Those include a host of brands that do not currently play in the U.S. market, including Chinese OEMs Foton and FAW, South Korea-based Hyundai, and the co-owned European marques MAN, Scania, and Volkswagen.
In response to these challenges and competitors, Rivera said that Freightliner Mexico was investing heavily in new cabovers, including two just introduced Freightliner 360 models, the Class 6 1217 and the Class 8 2528. Those two trucks joined the existing Class 4 715, introduced back in 2008, in the Freightliner 360 family, which is aimed at urban trucking applications.
Rivera pointed out that currently, many Mexican fleets and drivers view cabover trucks as unsafe and lacking adequate crash protection. In addition, he noted, Mexico is a highly price-sensitive market. He said that means the challenge for Freightliner Mexico and its dealer network is to educate its customer base on the reliability of cabover truck models as well as the long-term benefits of a brand such as Freightliner, including greater fuel economy, driver comfort, and reliability, and fielding an effective dealer network.