Earlier this year, smart invited thousands of international sales staff to Valencia, Spain. As part of the Global Training Experience, they got to experience the new smart electric drive models hands-on. Javier Esperón Fajardo is part of the training team – and makes sure all participants leave with a good dose of smart spirit.
The Veles e Vents in the harbor of Valencia. Wedged between the gorgeous backdrop of the Spanish city and the glistening sea, the stylish building is the ideal place to conduct the international training event called Global Training Experience (GTE). European and international smart markets send their teams to get to know the newest batch of smart models – the smart electric drive range. While the attendees have the chance to take the electric cars for a spin through the alleys of Valencia, they also enjoy a diverse training program including a virtual reality tour and engaging sessions with skilled trainers. Madrid native Javier Esperón Fajardo is one of them.
This year’s Global Training Experience for the new smart electric drive is located in the harbor of Valencia – home advantage for you. What are your tasks during this event?
Javier Esperón Fajardo: My job in Valencia is to give a more technical view of the smart electric drive. It is about working with the customer who is getting to know a new product and – in most cases – a new technology. Along with three colleagues, I take care of the Spanish market, which is becoming the third biggest market in the world for the smart electric drive. Valencia is the ideal setting for us: The city is really relaxed, friendly, open and funny. And with its narrow alleys, it is the perfect environment for a smart.
What are topics that interested drivers bring up when it comes to electric mobility?
Javier Esperón Fajardo: If you are considering buying a smart electric drive, chances are you are already well informed on electric mobility. Specs like the effective range of around 120 kilometers (155-160 kilometers, according to NEDC) – a perfect range for day-to-day city life – are important, no question. But it’s also crucial to allow the customer to feel the sensation of driving electric – it’s completely novel to most people. For the city, the smart electric drive is the ideal car. This is the change that needs to happen in people’s heads.
So aside from being a technical authority, you have to assume the role of ambassador for the smart philosophy.
Javier Esperón Fajardo: Definitely. The challenge is to not only provide the participants with features and numbers but also to give them a sense of the smart culture. The smart electric drive is an ultimate city car – but at the same time, it represents a certain lifestyle. smart actually started considering urban issues a long time ago. And now, it’s our time. It’s about more than selling a car – it’s about a philosophy of life.
In what regard is smart pushing the boundaries of urban mobility?
Javier Esperón Fajardo: The most exciting part at the moment is the world of smart services. smart “ready to drop” and smart “ready to share” are only the beginning. The fact is: In the long run, smart will be a service provider. It will become a trademark for smart. Our competitors don’t have that. smart is different; very passionate and connected to a joy of life. A brand loved by its customers. I really believe in the product. So it’s easy for me to transmit that.
Do you remember the first time you drove an electric car?
Javier Esperón Fajardo: Yes – it happened to be a smart electric drive. It was in Stuttgart-Vaihingen in 2007. When I was told I was going to drive an electric car, I was hesitant – admittedly. I expected it to feel like an RC toy, rather than a real car. But when I took a seat and felt the sensation, it opened my mind. A smooth but powerful acceleration – without noise. ‘Fantastic,’ I called out. Ever since, I have been deeply in love with the smart electric drive. I am fighting for it, I believe in it. The concept of electric mobility, obviously, is not new. But this product is right, the time is right, and it’s time for us to change something in the world.
How do media features like apps, VR or 360° tours change the process of training the sales staff?
Javier Esperón Fajardo: Everything is changing. Our living spaces are transforming. The trainings have to adapt to that and embrace the new technology. Experiencing a car by means of 3D tech adds a lot of new possibilities to look at what you would otherwise would have to dissemble. You could even tour intricate technical features like the motor or the charging system and look at every detail. It’s fantastic.
How does this technology influence potential customers?
Javier Esperón Fajardo: Especially fans of smart are really embracing digital tools. You can see that in social networks alone, where smart lovers come together and share their experiences with the brand. The final sale will still always happen in person, at the showroom. That sensation of the touch is important. Digital tools are perfect for gathering first impressions, information and falling in love with the concept. The mix of both is the key for smart.
What is the key message you want GTE attendees to take home after the event?
Javier Esperón Fajardo: That this is only the beginning. Look at a city like Madrid, where combustion engine cars are prohibited from entering the city center on certain days – change is happening. It’s impossible to stop that. Electric mobility is the future. This car, the smart electric drive gives us so many possibilities, from easy or even free parking in the city center to an environmentally friendly, quiet, and fast commute. That is the main message: Change is happening and smart is right there, prepared and ready. It’s not the future, it’s the present.