Engel rides Mexico auto growth

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Helped by a booming auto industry in Mexico, Austrian injection press supplier Engel Holding GmbH is enjoying strong sales there.

“I’m not ready to say we’re No. 1, but we’re keeping up quite well and the [sales] figures for 2012 are considerably higher than in 2011,” Peter Auinger, managing director of subsidiary Engel de México SA de CV, said July 10.

Engel did business in Mexico worth about $24.5 million in 2011, said Auinger, a polymer engineer, in a telephone interview.

More than 60 percent of Engel’s business in the country is with the auto industry.

Eight companies assembled an unprecedented 2.55 million light vehicles in 2011, 13.1 percent more than in 2010, according to national automakers association AMIA (Asociación Mexicana de la Industria Automotriz AC). Those companies were: Chrysler Group LLC, Fiat Group Automobiles, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG.

In the first six months of 2012, they produced an additional 1.41 million light vehicles, 12.8 percent more than in the first half of 2011, AMIA said.

With the likes of Nissan ($2 billion), Volkswagen ($1.3 billion), Honda ($800 million), Mazda Motor Corp. ($500 million) and Audi AG (unknown) committing at least $4.6 billion to building new plants or extending existing ones in Mexico, Auinger is optimistic about the future.

“There’s a clear intent to increase the national automotive industry’s production to 3.5 million in the next two or three years,” he said.

In addition to new business from its auto industry customers, most of which are Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, opportunities are arising from the arrival of new suppliers from abroad, he said.

In the past 18 months in Mexico, the company has sold four presses with clamping forces of 3,500 tons.

But Auinger is also looking forward to growth in other sectors where Engel supplies machines in Mexico: packaging for industrial and consumer goods, teletronics and medical, he said.

Since Auinger’s arrival in February 2011, Engel has added six employees in Mexico and now has a staff of 22, including service, sales and administrative personnel.

The firm opened a $5.5 million technical center and Mexican headquarters on the outskirts of Querétaro in October 2010.

“There are maybe between 2,700 and 3,000 injection molders in Mexico, between 1,400 and 1,500 of whom are potential customers,” he said. “We still have a long way to go to penetrate the market.”