TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. — While the North American auto industry may have been taking a series of economic hits, international auto suppliers are still looking to the U.S. for future growth.
Mexico’s Grupo Bocar is building a third injection molding plant for its Plastic Tec group, and headed north to the auto industry’s Management Briefing Seminars, being held Aug. 4-7 in Traverse City, to promote its capabilities.
The Mexico City-based company already is a direct supplier to U.S., European and Japanese-based carmakers. It has three business units producing aluminum die cast parts, machined parts and plastics. It came to Traverse City to boost its profile and show off its capabilities.
Plastic Tec currently has plants in Mexico City and Lerma, Mexico, with a combined 80 injection molding presses, ranging in size from 25 to 1,600 tons. The new plant, which is now under construction in San Luis Potosi, will add another 25 to 30 presses.
“We are not a shoot and ship company,” said Jaime Puente, office manager. “We have state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.”
Plastic Tec made the first in-mold application of a textile skin for an auto interior part in North America for Volkswagen AG’s Jetta. It makes air vents for BMW AG’s assembly plant in Spartanburg, S.C., replacing parts previously made in Europe, Puente said.
Italian auto suppliers, meanwhile, are touting their knowledge of Fiat SpA — a relationship that takes on added importance now that Fiat has purchased a controlling interest in Chrysler Group LLC of Auburn Hills, Mich.
“[Fiat and Chrysler] are in an early limbo stage now but there are opportunities it is going to happen,” said Luigi Giachino, business development manager for Mecaprom Technologies Corp., of Bergamo, Italy, in an interview at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.
Mecaprom recently opened its first Detroit-area office, in Plymouth, Mich., and it is looking for a partner in the region that it can team with to combine its knowledge on small engine development with Fiat.
The company is just part of an outreach from auto suppliers in Italy through the Italian American Alliance for Business and Technology. The alliance of auto suppliers located around Turin, Italy — which is home to Fiat — wants to make connections with Chrysler and its supply base.
Many of the alliance companies have had business in North America in the past, but expect to build on that now that Fiat will be working with Chrysler on future small vehicles, said Alliance President Massimo Denipoti.