A New Jersey management holding company has begun contacting potential suppliers in Mexico as it works to become the first assembler of Chinese sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and three-wheel passenger cars in North America.
Executives of China America Cooperative Automotive Inc. (Chamco Auto) of Parsippany, N.J., met potential suppliers and dealers in Mexico City on June 26 and 27, a day after signing a document of intent with Chinese automaker Hebei Zhongxing Automobile Co. (ZX Auto).
Chamco and ZX Auto plan to build an assembly plant in Tijuana, Mexico, according to Bill Pollack, Chamco's chairman and chief executive officer.
The plant will cost an estimated $300 million, 50 percent of which will come from suppliers, according to Chamco's business strategy. Pollack, 55, has said the idea is to have the operation up and running in 2009.
In the interim, Chamco is seeking the Mexican government's approval to import and commercialize 50,000 ZX vehicles from China over the next two years.
The vehicles would enter the country duty-free because, under Mexican and North American Free Trade Agreement rules, North American vehicle manufacturers pay no import tariffs
Chamco hopes the document it signed in its deal with ZX Auto will convince Mexico's federal authorities it is serious about building a plant that would export vehicles the United States and Canada.
``We have done what we had to do and now we have to wait patiently,'' Pollack said.
Chamco's stockholders comprise senior automotive and business executives who, to quote the company's Web site, ``are investing their own capital and talents in Chamco Auto.''
However, Pollack himself admits he has little knowledge of the automotive industry. ``I'm an [information technology] executive. I know how to put a team together and run a company. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and here I saw an opportunity to make history.''
A national U.S. bridge champion, he has a bachelor's degree in mathematics and computer science and master's degree in computer science at Columbia University in New York.
Chamco said his background includes several technology-oriented positions at Cisco Systems Inc. and Telcordia Technologies, and he was also chief operating officer of tech firm Ipswitch Inc.
His sole auto industry background: He helped Volkswagen consolidate global data centers.