NASHVILLE, Tenn. – José Muñoz, senior vice president for sales and marketing in Nissan's Americas region, was appointed to his new role on March 23, 2013 after driving a 34-month run of Nissan sales leadership in Mexico. He helped that market to achieve its highest share in the history of the operation in Mexico and was responsible for developing key dealer network initiatives leading to improvements across the Nissan Mexicana sales network.
The Media Center had a chance to meet with Mr. Muñoz, who now has his sights set on managing sales and marketing for the entire Americas region. He is also responsible for the region's Customer Quality and Dealer Network Development.
Q1: Compare the U.S. market to the environment in Mexico and Latin America. Can you drive similar successes using the same strategies or are other measures called for?
José Muñoz: I believe the markets are somehow similar, but there are certain elements that are very unique in the Mexican market and in the U.S. market. To me that the U.S. market is very competitive and there are lots of elements that need to be taken into consideration when setting a policy in terms of pricing or incentives. The volumes are huge so any variation up or down has a really significant impact in the way that you do business. But, the brand is in very good shape, we have a strong dealer network, and I believe we have a great product as well. But what is even more important is we have great employees. So I believe we have all of the elements for success and we are going to try and do the best we can and improve the operations in the U.S., increase our share, increase our profit, get our dealers more profitable. We'll do our best, that's for sure.
Q2: In 2012 Nissan LEAF sales in the U.S. were essentially flat when compared to 2011, the first full year of sales. In 2013, how has it been out of the gate the first three months and what is needed not to really move toward mass market acceptance?
José Muñoz: In early 2013, we have seen a big improvement when it comes to sales. We have just launched the MY13 (Nissan LEAF) with a lower price and extended battery life, and we've seen a significant improvement in sales, which will keep growing once we have all of the benefits of the supply that Tennessee (Nissan Smyrna Manufacturing) is giving us today.
Q3: Focusing on 2013, what vehicles are going to be hot in 2013, for the Nissan or Infiniti brand. Do you see something as a standout?
José Muñoz: I believe we are going to see a lot of momentum in the vehicles we launched last year. I think the new (Nissan) Altima, Sentra, Pathfinder are going to see very significant growth year-over-year. Same goes for Infiniti. We are about to launch the new Q50, and I think this will give us significant share and volume gains in the market place.
Q4: Now that Infiniti has presence throughout the region, what do you expect to see from that brand in the coming year?
José Muñoz: I think that 2013 is going to be a key year for Infiniti because we are going to see at the same time consolidation and growth. Consolidation because we will have some of the markets we recently launched already at cruising speed. And the growth which is going to come with the launch of the new Q50 which was announced at the Detroit motor show.
Q5. Is there one element that you are really keeping an eye on? Is there a derailer out there that worries you in the coming year?
José Muñoz: To me the key success element is to keep the team motivated and confident. I'm really confident that we have a strong plan. We have the right strategy. We have also a good dealer network. We're going to strengthen the brand. We're going to strengthen the dealer body. We are going to launch new products. So to me, the only key additional element we need is to get all of our employees focused, really motivated and committed and believing in our own plan. I believe we are going to have a lot of good news this year for both Nissan and Infiniti in the Americas region.
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