Volkswagen AG's Mexico unit, which runs the carmaker's only assembly complex in North America, wants to persuade toolmakers to set up operations close to the giant facility in the city of Puebla, according to a senior VW executive.
Mold makers have a great opportunity, said Thomas Karig, VW vice president of corporate relations and strategy at the site.
Currently most molds used by VW in Puebla are imported, usually from the U.S. and Canada, with suppliers' technicians traveling constantly to and from Mexico, he said. There is a need for more toolmakers to establish operations in Puebla, he added.
Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen is determined to reduce its reliance on euro-sourced supplies in Mexico and to boost the percentage of parts and components sourced in dollars which applies to suppliers in Mexico as well as in the U.S. and Canada, Karig said July 21 at a conference in Puebla on challenges faced by the Mexican plastics industry.
We want to reach 90 percent, he said, referring to supplies sourced in dollars. Last year we were at about 60 percent.
In April, Volkswagen launched assembly of the sixth-generation Volkswagen Jetta for world markets at a new $1 billion extension to the Puebla complex.
According to Otto Lindner, CEO of Volkswagen de México, 70 percent of the new vehicle's components are manufactured by suppliers based in Mexico. The Puebla complex, which lies 75 miles southeast of Mexico City, has production capacity of 2,100 vehicles a day, up from 1,800 a day last year.
The automaker will begin production of a new, midsize sedan at a plant being built in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2011. That plant will have an annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles.
Emphasizing that Volkswagen wants to vary its supply base in Mexico, Karig said: It's not good enough to purchase only from the biggest suppliers. It's very important to vary this. We want to support and monitor the development of [other] suppliers.
The company has a department dedicated to the development of suppliers, he said.
The two-day conference was organized by national plastics industry group Anipac (Asociacón Nacional de Industrias del Plastico AC) and by Universidad Popular AutÃ³noma del Estado de Puebla, a private university that assists in developing the plastics industry in the state of Puebla.