Relationship between Argentina and Mercedes-Benz It began in 1951. And it was very successful from the start, that in our country the first factory of star brands was installed outside Germany. However, so far, he had never had an Argentine president.
"Now we have all open spaces, no offices, and I don't have an office," he said. Manuel Mantilla, the new president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina, made a reference to the new building where the company operates.
"With this design, other dynamics are generated, namely what the market needs now, we are in a transition to what is demanded in the future, the question is not what will happen but how you will do it."
Manuel Mantilla, at the entrance to the brand's new office in the country, in Munro.
The only antecedent from an Argentine to Mercedes is one of them Juan Manuel Fangio. Yes El Chueco, who in 1974 led the board of directors and was later appointed as the Life's Honorary President of the company, from 1987 to 1995, when he died. Can also be mentioned to Jonathan Holcomb (2000-2004), born in that country even though Argentina he only has DNI.
Only 68 years later, an Argentine subsidiary has a local president. Mantilla, a graduate of business administration, joined the brand 10 years ago and has been responsible for the most important business that Mercedes has in this country: Vans Division.
"We are thinking of launching a new generation of Sprinter, produced in this country, for the last quarter of 2019"
Mantilla's arrival to the management of local subsidiaries occurred in the general context of the adverse market and with companies in particular just canceled one of the most ambitious projects in recent years: Class X pickup, the development in which Argentina participated from the start, will not be produced in Cordoba along with the Nissan-Renault alliance as planned.
– You from the beginning with the development of Class X pickups, what sense made you decide not to make it in this country?
– It is true. I was at the origin of the project, back in 2011 or 2012. Here there are all teams that work very closely with Germany. We know that is a big challenge, but we are fully prepared to face it. And one year ago the vehicle left but we stayed ready. And finally an agreement could not be reached between Daimler and Nissan. And the truth is that it's a very sad decision made for all the efforts we make. But we really enjoyed the trip, because we challenged many prejudices about brands, processes, and what we were able or unable to do.
– Why does this project work in Spain, another factory where Class X is made, and not here?
– It is true that the project started with manufacturing in Barcelona and Latin America is the second step. I think maybe the question is more for Nissan.
– Will you sell Class X in Argentina, even if it's imported?
– Not. That is not part of the project.
– Do they import several units? What will happen to that Class X?
– We are already in Chile. There are around 50 units.
– This year they have announced the termination of national production of the Vito model …
– La Vito we will continue to market. It will come imported from Spain. Here he stopped being produced because catching us was very complicated for the first time with the Brazilian market and now with Argentina, which did not justify it either.
– All industrial energy seems to be included in the new Sprinter, how do new generation projects come?
– The great hard worker we have is a fast runner. We are thinking of launching for the last quarter of 2019. This is the new generation of this model, the third generation produced in this country. Our focus will also be placed on Argentina and Brazil, as well as other countries in Latin America. In Brazil, sales are very good, because last year this was the first in the segment. And in Argentina we were number 1 many years ago and it was very difficult to live there. That's why the idea is to surprise the market before you need a new vehicle.
The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was introduced last year in Europe.
– And what will surprise the new generation of Sprinter?
– I will tell you at the end of the year … the design has changed. It will have a fully updated board, efficiency in the engine …
– But the new Sprinter will arrive at a market that is currently very difficult, how do you see the automotive sector?
– Balance for us remains positive in terms of manufacturing regardless of everything. We add Accelo trucks to the production line and our factory works two shifts at full capacity, which from the point of view of our work is very good. Big disappointment began last year, when the market began to collapse in April. And I estimate that the remainder of 2019 will be more or less the same as what we have lived. There are contributing field sectors, Vaca Muerta and Brazilian market demand, helping the economy. But with that we only compensate for the sector that is still bad. On average we maintain this level of activity. Today the big uncertainty is the October election. After it's clarified, I hope you start seeing growth.
– How do you think the relationship between the automotive industry and Brazil will develop?
– Brazil is a strategic partner and that vision is bilateral. Mercosur is comfortable for both and every decision taken must be taken together, because ultimately the two countries are interdependent. In the short term I don't think anything unusual happens with Mercosur. What is the way? That is what is being discussed.
"The austerity plan is our other great tool, with Vito and Sprinter working very well, we have an estimated decline in subscriptions because of market news, but we don't have delinquency"
– Are there opportunities to expand export destinations with new Sprinters?
– Today the Vans division has factories in the US, has one in China, another in Africa, in Germany, in Spain and in Argentina, of course. The presence of plants is strategic. And our focus is placed on this region. And the same thing happens with other regions. We are currently focusing on Mercosur and several Latin American countries.
– It's impossible to send units to the US. for example.
– We did it last year but because of the US factory I just started producing and having difficulty getting started. It talks about the quality of the products we produce here, which can be sold without problems on the US market, made by Argentina and components which in many cases are also produced here.
"Electric car development is more a state policy than an automotive one"
– Is it possible to continue to support local markets, especially the commercial vehicle market, with scarce financing available here?
– This really helped us to have Mercedes-Benz Financiera, our own finance company. They have a focus on the automotive industry and that in commercial vehicles is very important. And from there we offer the option to compete with the plans we diagram. Not at national rates, which are very high. But we can subsidize that tariff and make it attractive to customers.
Mantilla arrived at Mercedes-Benz 10 years ago.
– In generalist brands, the savings plan decreases a lot and there are many complaints from consumers, with quotas dropping into the cloud. How do you influence them with commercial vehicles?
– This is our other great tool. With Vito and Sprinter it works really well. I do not know in detail the plans of other brands but our quota only changes as the list price increases. I am not saying that there are few, but in other brands, in addition to rising list prices, there are plans that stagger, at a low cost at the beginning and then grow a lot. When you combine two things that occur discomfort. We have predicted a decrease in subscriptions due to market news, but we have no delinquency.
– share a car growing more and more and there are already several options in Argentina. Can you implement a system like that but with a commercial vehicle?
– Technically it's possible, but it will be necessary to determine the legal framework to make it happen. And we don't have it today. With transportation and cargo vehicles, there are regulations that do not allow it.
– The plan for electrification of Mercedes globally is very large. What is the project for this country?
– Products that we have. That is clear. Here we have offered a hybrid version of the GLC plug-in. A few days ago the first 100% electric unit from the Bremen factory, EQC, an SUV with 500 km autonomy and acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h in 5.1 seconds out … Spectacular! But even if the products we have, they must be accompanied by appropriate infrastructure. This is more a state policy than an automotive policy. Mercedes will promote all of these changes and to accompany this country in future development. There are many mobility initiatives that occur. The cars are there, infrastructure is needed.