Mexico City - The next president of Nissan Mexicana, 39-year-old Mayra Gonzalez, is as proud of her brand as she is of her country.
She rattles off statistics that show why Nissan brand and Mexico make a perfect combination: 83 straight months as the local sales leader, with a record 347,000 light vehicles sold last year and a 26 percent market share, the highest Nissan penetration of any market in the world.
Her new goal is to extend the record to 100 months in a row.
Gonzalez, who is moving up from the top sales position, says she sees Mexico's role in the auto industry as more than an export platform; it's an aspirational market where students are increasingly in a position to buy their first car and young families to step up to their first SUV.
"The good thing about Mexico is there remains a market that can buy a car but doesn't know that it can," she said in an interview early this month.
In Mexico, five of the 10 top-selling models are Nissans. And all five are made in Mexico. "I always say that Nissan is a Japanese company that is proudly Mexican, with 50 years now in this wonderful country," she said.
The trailblazing executive is also aware that she's shattering the glass ceiling in an industry dominated by men. Gonzalez's promotion to president, effective July 1, makes her the youngest executive and the first woman to hold that job. She is also the first woman to lead a Nissan group country operation.
Gonzalez developed Nissan's Dealer Standards Improvement plan, which has been adopted by the company's sales units in other countries. She did so while at Nissan North America headquarters in Nashville as head of customer quality and dealer network development strategy. Gonzalez even sold cars for a time before joining Nissan Mexicana 15 years ago.
As she shifts from sales and marketing to the big picture, she's also focused on Mexico's strengths as a production and export center for global automakers.
Nissan brand produced 823,000 vehicles in Mexico last year and will head to around 1 million after the 2018 opening of its newest plant, a joint project between Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Gonzalez said.
"We are going to be the first manufacturer to produce that level of volume," she added, with Mexico's overall production on pace to reach 5 million vehicles by 2020.She spoke with AutoNews.com reporter Laurence Iliff. Click HERE to read the interview.