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MEXICO - Industry

José Román

President & CEO, Nissan Mexicana

Bio

José Román is the current President & CEO of Nissan Mexicana and NIBU, a company that has maintained its leadership in automotive sales for more than 12 years. Román has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry. He joined Nissan in 2012 as regional vice president of Sales for Nissan Mexicana. After holding senior roles in Latin America, he was appointed global leader of Datsun in 2017, where he served as corporate vice president, Global Datsun Business Unit, NML. In his previous role, Román led sales and marketing operations and oversaw all commercial operations in Nissan Latin America.

"Today, it is easy to access an electric car and within a competitive price range."
Working on innovations to promote green mobility, Nissan Mexicana is banking on its E-Power technology to democratize electric vehicles.
What factors underpin Mexico’s status as Nissan’s fourth-largest market in the world?

We have been present in Mexico for 60 years and are a most interesting mix of Mexican talent and Japanese engineering. We are doing extremely well because we are such a beloved brand in our country. The first factory ever built outside of Japan was in Cuernavaca almost 60 years ago, so Mexico is truly a strategic country for Nissan. The numbers are excellent, but we have been leading the market for 12 years. The first factor was renovating our product, though another important factor is in the manufacturing scheme itself. We are the biggest vehicle producers in Mexico and export to many countries in the region and across the world. From here, we export to over 80 countries; the electric NIBU range is also managed from here. That is an additional 34 countries that I am also in charge of. Aside from that, Mexico is an export base selling to over 80 countries. While not the world’s largest market for Nissan, Mexico ranks fourth after the US, China, and Japan, respectively. The industry is not witnessing its most prosperous times, mostly because of the chip shortage resulting from the pandemic. Yet, considering that environment, we are doing fairly well.

What steps is the company taking to become more sustainable and align with ESG standards?

Our two primary objectives are simple: zero accidents and zero emissions. Most of the accidents on the roads today are due to human error, and there is technology being applied in cars that can help prevent such errors. The Sentra or Versa, for example, which are mid-priced vehicles, already feature around 14 types of Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies such as cameras, brakes, airbags, security controls, and traction. Nowadays, this has almost become a standard feature in cars, which is wonderful. Our clients have also adapted and begun to invest greater trust in technology. And the other matter is that of electrification. We provide a Nissan-styled solution and it is quite a bit different because it considers the prevailing situation of each continent. The speed in which electrification is applied will be totally different in each.

Why will electric vehicles take longer to enter the Latam market?

Today, it is easy to access an electric car and within a competitive price range. It is only slightly more expensive than traditional vehicles. The necessary regulations have arrived in Europe, and the US will be 40% electric by 2030. Mexico and Latin America will take a while longer, however. There are three aspects to this issue: the client, the government, and the company. Governments have not yet rolled out electric recharge stations on a national level. Mexico already has around 700, though there is still a long way to go. Electrification is not the number-one priority of any Latin American government. The first solution we came up with was to launch our hybrid, the Nissan X-Trail. We then launched the Nissan Leaf, a 100% electrical car, 10 years ago, and it has become the best-selling car. We believe the solution for Mexico is what is called E-Power technology, which is exclusive to Nissan. E-Power has a large electric motor and a small gasoline-fueled motor that charges the battery. However, it does not run the vehicle; the electric motor is the one powering it. The advantage here is the autonomy these vehicles enjoy. One of these can go as far as 800km, depending on the driver, without needing to be charged. We plan to install electrification technologies in much cheaper cars and democratize electrification. Electrification will arrive in Mexico but will not be fully implemented for at least another decade.

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