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MEXICO - Industry

José Zozaya

President, Mexican Association of the Automotive Industry (AMIA)

Bio

José Zozaya has been Executive President of AMIA since 2020. He previously served as president, general manager, and executive representative of Kansas City Southern de México from 2006-2020. Before, he was the legal and governmental relations director of ExxonMobil México, a position he held for nine years. He has a honoris causa degree from the Mexican Academy of International Law and a law degree from Iberoamerican University. He completed advanced studies in corporate law and economic competition at ITAM, attended the executive program of international management at Thunderbird University in Arizona, the management program for lawyers at Yale, and the executive course for board members of administration at the Harvard Business School. He was president of the Mexican Railway Association 2020-2021, vice president of Concamin since 2018, and a member of the board of Afore Siglo XXI, Ferrovalle, and the Business Summit. In 2016, he was appointed president of the binational board of directors of the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.

"We applaud that decision and feel that it is good for the government to set such goals."
To help Mexico meet its targets of producing 5 million cars a year, AMIA is working to get the sector to become more competitive while lobbying for better infrastructure and government services.
What projects is AMIA working on at the moment?

The whole world is gradually moving from combustion engines to electric and hybrid vehicles. As one of the leaders in exporting cars, ranked fifth worldwide, Mexico must be ready for those changes and ensure its facilities have the capabilities to produce such technology. This is already taking place as we speak, and some of the brands in our association are already producing electric or hybrid cars in Mexico. We are working with the government in order to make sure all of the infrastructure that will be needed for electric vehicles is available. It is a major change that needs to be managed and led by the government alongside all of the different players in the auto industry. We want to ensure the government is already starting on this, because otherwise, we would be too late for those changes, and Mexico could lose its leadership position. This would result in companies moving their operations overseas. To make sure this does not happen, we need to work on this proactively.

The government has set the goal of having 50% of the Mexican vehicle production be zero emissions by 2030. How close is the industry to that goal?

We applaud that decision and feel that it is good for the government to set such goals. However, we need to work together; one cannot set such an aggressive goal if they have not conferred with all of the players to make sure that this is possible. The government is not the one manufacturing cars. The first thing it needs to do—which we are also working with it on—is establish public policies regarding electric mobility, which Mexico is behind on. It may be complicated to achieve the goal by 2030 because at this moment, only 2 or 3% of the vehicles in Mexico are electric, and there are only eight years left to the deadline.

What is the current status of production levels in the country?

Unfortunately, we are behind and still in the process of recovery. It was not just the pandemic but problems with microchips and logistics issues. We are selling almost all our cars, though it is not because demand is high but because we do not have enough cars. We expect the situation to stabilize somewhat by the end of the year, and we will be in better shape. Then, we expect to reach pre-pandemic numbers by 2024; however, there are many things that could happen in between then, such as the war between Ukraine and Russia.

What can Mexico do to increase its imports and be among the top three car exporters globally?

It must be more efficient and produce more. We have not been able to, because of the electric chips and logistics issues. We should be able to establish a better position in the future. Mexico has the capacity to build 5 million cars; right now, we are only at 3 million, so we have room to grow. This is a responsibility of the private sector; however, the government also has a role to play. It has to ensure the auto industry is supported by establishing fewer bureaucratic processes and facilitating the working and exporting processes for the auto industry.

Can you elaborate on the internal changes that AMIA is going through?

We are reinforcing our staff and establishing new internal policies and ways of collaborating in order to ensure we have the right skills and relationship with the government, media, and other chambers and associations. We have to be competitive, which means using a more efficient way of doing things, better infrastructure, and better government services such as customs and the like to expedite border crossings of legal merchandise. Also, in the case of Mexico, electricity is extremely important. It has to be available at a competitive cost. All of these are extremely relevant and important for a country to become competitive.

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