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NAFTA Automotive Trade Mission 2013

November 7, 2013

“It’s time to move - the doors are open for innovative suppliers to the NAFTA-Automotive industry”

Eleven Austrian automotive suppliers participated in the NAFTA Automotive Trade Mission 2013 to Mexico City and Greenville, SC, which took place from October 28th to November 1st, 2013. The event was organized by the Austrian Trade Commissions in Mexico City, Chicago and Toronto in order to promote the cooperation between Austrian companies and potential partners and clients in the NAFTA region. Participants received a detailed update on the status quo of this booming industry sector in all three NAFTA countries.

The Mission started in on October 28th in beautiful and historical Mexico City. The participants received a thorough introduction to the Mexican automotive industry delivered by industry experts and representatives during an informative business breakfast on the first day of the trip. The highlight of the afternoon was the visit of the assembly plant of Mexico’s only homegrown sports car brand Mastretta. After a short presentation of the company by the owner brothers Daniel and Carlos Mastretta the group could experience firsthand how a sports car is made (by hand!). During the evening the participants had the opportunity to make new contacts during an industry networking event hosted by the Austrian Trade Commission in Mexico. On the following the visit of the largest car assembly plant on the America continent at Volkswagen in Pubela was a full success. Besides outlining the ambitious expansions plans of the Volkswagen group in Mexico by Senior Vice President of Volkswagen de México Thomas Karig there was also time to discuss specific opportunities to deliver components to the Volkswagen plants in North America. Afterwards the group was welcomed by the Minister of Economic Development of the State of Hidalgo to an ancient Hacienda with a traditional Mexican lunch followed by a presentation of the state government about the business opportunities for the automotive industry in the state. The final stopping point of this trip was the visit of the DINA bus plant in Ciudad Sahagún where Mexico’s only national manufacturer of heavy vehicles produces buses for Mexico and Latin America.

After this comprehensive overview of this countries’ automotive industry, the Austrian delegation moved on to gather again in Greenville, South Carolina. The US-Automotive industry, traditionally headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, has found a new manufacturing center in this region. With a higher concentration of automotive manufacturers and suppliers in a 500 mile radius around Greenville, than Detroit, the Upstate of South Carolina has become a contender for the title of the “automotive manufacturing center” of the US.

In cooperation with the Upstate Alliance of SC, a local business development organization, the Austrian Trade Commissions Chicago and Toronto organized a well-received program with a strong focus on the automotive suppliers industry. The highlights of the US/Canadian part were perhaps the site visits to the German BMW Manufacturing, DAA Draexlmaier and ZF Transmissions. The Austrian delegates did not only get to tour their facilities and marvel at the complexity of “just in time” and “just in sequence” delivery concepts, but had the opportunity to present their business to decision makers of the respective purchasing departments. The unmatched hospitality and willingness to provide valuable input to each Austrian representative left a very positive impression on the delegates and resulted in useful connections for future business ventures.

Good connections were also made at a networking reception at the BMW Performance Center with representatives of other local automotive companies as well as service providers. The exciting program was additionally enhanced by a visit to one of the leading educational and research institutions for the Automotive Industry – the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research CU-ICAR. After updates through Ms Suzanne Dickerson and a tour of the facility, the delegation was further impressed by the comprehensive industry update of the Automotive Industry in Canada through the “Automotive Guru”, Mr. Dennis DesRosiers.

This year’s trip showed a strong focus on the automotive supplier’s side which will be continued for the 2014 Trade Mission. A conclusion can be drawn from this trip, that given the strict emissions and environmental restrictions the US-Automotive industry is facing, the door for new and innovative suppliers for Austria is wide open. Specifically for companies, who offer improvements in vehicle weight, emissions and production areas there are many opportunities at the moment. The Trade Commissions in Mexico City, Toronto and Chicago offer a wide array of services and are supporting Austrian companies to execute their plans for the NAFTA region.

Participating in the 2013 Trade Mission were the following companies:

· BRP Powertrain GmbH & Co KG
· Europe Latin America Consulting
· Fronius International GmbH
· MEGATECH Industries AG
· Plasmo Industrietechnik GmbH
· Ing. Rauch Fertigungstechnik GmbH
· RB International Finance (USA) LLC
· voestalpine Austria Draht GmbH