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MAN’s objective: to remain on top

Article - August 30, 2011
Antonio Roberto Cortes, president of MAN Latin America, talks about his hopes for the future of the Resende truck and bus making plant
How do you account for the success of the MAN Latin America plant in Resende?

Brazil, as a country, has improved a lot in several aspects. We now have 30 million new consumers, a better wealth balance, and the reduction of interest rates, which makes people consume more. In our economy, 65% of the goods are transported by truck, and 95% of the people use the bus as their mode of transportation. That is our business.

Another reason for the success of the plant – whose roots lie in Volkswagen, but which is now a new company, MAN Latin America – is that we have always had the right products for this country; they are tailored for the Brazilian customer. We started our operations in Brazil, and our product development is here. We have been here for 30 years without importing any vehicle. We also have the best dealer network in Brazil.

Two other factors to contribute to our success: our new plant in Brazil, which has a very innovative and cost-efficient production system (the Modular Consortium) and, something we lacked in the past, the focus. Focus is everything.

Are you optimistic about the prospects for bus and truck production in Brazil over the coming years?

We are counting on two main factors. One is the macroeconomics, which we believe are going to improve for our sector. Brazil has to invest massively in infrastructure, and you can measure this in trucks to be sold. The last time that Brazil invested in infrastructure was in the 1970-80 decade. From 2011 to 2020 there will be huge investments again. The combination of the World Cup and the Olympics will also create lots of opportunities.

Another important factor is that today’s truck fleet is aging. It is around 18 years old, and to be optimal a fleet should be between seven or eight years old. This means that there will be a renovation of this fleet. If you take the combination of economic growth, the need for infrastructure and the truck fleet renewal urgency, all this sounds good for us.

In addition to the VW trucks and buses that have been leading the market for 30 years, we are going to bring the MAN brand products to all Latin America countries. We have just opened an additional assembly line for the MAN models, so that we will be able to offer a new extra-heavy range. If we combine all those factors – fleet renovation, GDP, infrastructure, and products that we are going to bring – we believe that in the coming years, we can grow at a minimum two-digit number, which is a good perspective.

Can you tell us more about introducing the MAN brand to Brazil?

Our philosophy is to produce locally. We do not want to import products or parts that can be produced locally; we want to build trucks for our own market, specifically for our conditions. We do not want to depend on the exchange rate, and this is in line with our business model.

How much do you take environmental considerations into account?

We care about the environment, and there are two ways of reacting to this. One is to go for the hybrid model, and the other one is to go for biofuel. In Brazil’s case, considering the amount of land that can be used for plantations and our experience, our way to contribute to sustainability is to invest in biodiesel. We believe this is the solution because this is a renewable source of energy that also creates jobs.

Where would you like to see MAN Latin America in five years’ time?

Our objective is to remain in the number one position, to keep producing state-of-the-art products, and our big challenge is to cope with the increased competition that Brazil will face.

Everybody is setting their eyes on Brazil, and today we have a very competitive market. The Swedish, the Germans and the Americans are already here, and there are more companies announcing their plans to enter this market.

So our objective is to keep our business up, to make it more difficult for competitors to come close to us, and for the potential new customers to succeed.