Interview with Roberto Cortes, President & CEO Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus (VWCO) Brazil


Last year was a good year for the truck sector in Brazil, with more than 51,000 registrations of heavy-duty trucks, 10,000 medium-duty trucks and 23,000 light-duty trucks. How do you explain this performance? Is it due to the good health of the Brazilian economy? Has the demand for transport increased? If so, why? Or is it mainly due to the replacement of old trucks?

It is a mix of increased demand for transport and the replacement of old trucks, but both aspects were sustained by a gradual Brazilian economy recovery. Our industry is a thermometer of the economy and the Brazilian economy experienced growth in its GDP.

How did Volkswagen and MAN trucks perform last year in terms of sales volume in the different segments in Brazil?

Including buses and exported vehicles, VWCO sales totalled 41,900 units in 2019. We sold 30,237 trucks in Brazil last year – from the light-duty VW Delivery Express up to the extra-heavy MAN TGX.

Last January, Associação Nacional dos Fabricantes de Veículos Automotores (ANFAVEA) seemed to be pretty positive in its outlook for the Brazilian truck market for this year. What is the situation now? What about the outlook for the rest of this year?

Right now, we are facing an unprecedented scenario associated with COVID-19, so it is still not possible to comment on it.

Is the Brazilian transport sector mainly dominated by big or medium fleets or, by small companies or even owner drivers? Can you give some figures, i.e. how many fleets of different sizes?

Among VWCO customers, the percentage is divided mainly between owner drivers or small companies and big fleets. Owner drivers or small fleets (one to three vehicles) represent about 28% of our clients. Fleets with four to ten vehicles account for 18%, while fleets comprising 11 to 25 vehicles make up 13%. Medium fleets with 26 to 50 vehicles represent 9% of our customers, with those operating 51 to 100 vehicles account for 8%. Big fleets (more than 100 vehicles) make up 24%.

Can you list – from the most important to the less relevant factor – the main concerns/requirements of transport operators in Brazil today (ie total cost of ownership or TCO, truck reliability, uptime, fuel cost)?

The most desirable factor is low fuel consumption, followed by durability and uptime. Then they consider aftersales: apart from the dealer network in Brazil, spare parts availability is also an important factor. The vehicle’s technical prowess is also important to operators. The sum of these aspects results in a good TCO.

What is the most successful Volkswagen truck on the Brazilian market? Why? For which application is it used?

Nowadays, our best-selling truck is the VW Delivery 11.180, mostly because of its versatility. The vehicle is used to distribute general cargo in both urban and interstate operations. This model was the second best-selling truck in Brazil in 2019.

What is the most successful MAN truck in the Brazilian market? Why? For which application?

The TGX 29.480 is our most successful MAN truck in the Brazilian market and it is extremely popular for bulk grain transportation.

How do you manage to differentiate the products of the two brands (ie Volkswagen Trucks and MAN Trucks)?

We have a clear positioning in our market. We work with VW trucks up to 420 hp and with MAN from 440 hp onwards.

When do you plan to introduce the New MAN Truck Generation in Brazil?

We do not comment on future projects or launches.

How many dealers/service points do you have in Brazil?

We have an extensive network covering all over Brazil with around 140 dealer outlets.