Daimler Trucks North America LLC of Portland, Ore., which opened a $300 million manufacturing complex in Saltillo, Mexico, in January, is looking for local suppliers of molded plastic and other parts.
We are relocating suppliers from the United States to Mexico and also developing new suppliers in Mexico close to the plant, Mark Hernandez, manager of the Saltillo complex, said last week at a two-day conference in Mexico City.
The event was organized by Mexico's suppliers association, Industria Nacional de Autopartes AC.
Other executives spoke about opportunities available to plastic processors in Mexico, including Randall Pappal of General Motors Corp. Mexico. Pappal, executive director of GPS-HVAC electrical components said GM already buys $6.2 billion worth of supplies in Mexico and we want to increase this.
Arturo Cortés, purchasing director of Nissan Mexicana, said his company wants to source PVC co-extruded parts, painted blow molded items, as well as insulation and foams, plastic and rubber compounds and fuel-system tubing.
Thomas Karig, vice president of corporate relations and strategy for Volkswagen de México, told the conference that Volkswagen AG spent $100 billion with suppliers across the world in 2008 but only 4.2 percent was sourced from North America, including Mexico.
Asked whether suppliers in Mexico will benefit from the opening of Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tenn., plant, Karig replied: The expectation is that Mexican suppliers will do well because they already have business with Volkswagen in North America and because of Mexico's geographical location.
According to Automotive News, a Plastics News sister publication, Volkswagen purchasing officials already have sourced $238 million in local annual parts contracts for the midsized VW sedan to be built in Chattanooga beginning in 2011. That contract value represents only vehicle components that will come from suppliers within a two- to three-hour drive from the Chattanooga plant suppliers in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.
Despite Volkswagen's plans for Chattanooga, Karig said the Volkswagen plant in Puebla, 75 miles southeast of Mexico City, will continue to be the main center of development and production for Volkswagen in North America.
The Puebla plant assembled 450,000 vehicles last year but Karig said production this year is unlikely to top 300,000, due to the global economic downturn.
Ramzi Hermiz, senior vice president of vehicle safety and protection systems for Southfield, Mich.-based Federal Mogul Group, and Gabriel Kohn, global sourcing director for Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar Corp., also saw opportunities for Mexico-based suppliers.
In an interview, Daimler Trucks' Hernandez stressed that the interiors of modern trucks and tractor-trailers, from the dashboard to side panels, are made almost entirely of molded plastic.
Daimler produces Freightliner's Class 8 Cascadia for U.S., Canadian and Mexican markets in Saltillo, where the plant has an production capacity of 30,000 vehicles.
Saltillo is the second Daimler Trucks manufacturing facility in Mexico. The company's Santiago Tianguistenco plant, near Mexico City, produces Freightliner heavy- and medium-duty trucks for Latin America, the United States and Canada.
Daimler plans to move production of its Western Star-branded trucks from Portland to Santiago Tianguistenco in June, when manufacturing in Portland will cease.
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