Elisa Crespo Ferrer
Director General
Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico
View from the Top

Integrated Approach to Automotive Industry

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 13:31

Q: Who were the founding members of the Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico and what motivated them to form the cluster?

A: The founding members of the automotive cluster were Grupo Merik, Hitachi Automotive Systems, Sag Mecasa, Sypris, Macimex, Grupo Tamer, Mikel’s, JSP, Organización Brenn, Tebo, Lara, Hitchiner, YE Automotización, Suzuki, TCSMX, Sivalco, and Catolsa. The whole group firmly believes that collaboration and sharing best practices between companies is the ideal strategy to motivate and improve competitiveness within our own entities. From the information gathered from other clusters we can try to implement the strategies that are applicable to our specific area, in the same way that the cluster in Nuevo Leon handled its development.

Q: How do you balance collaboration with the government to promote the existing automotive players with the search for new investments?

A: We have collaborated with the state government, acting as an ally to raise the state’s profile as well as its installations, while promoting the opportunities that exist through continued improvements. We have had no problem doing so while upholding our own position and our reputation. Realistically, in comparison with other states with clusters, such as the aforementioned Nuevo Leon, we are the region with longest automotive history in the country, since our state hosted the first manufacturing plant. As a result our companies have a long tradition of high quality development and innovation. Furthermore, our human capital offers excellent added value as it is the most qualified in the country, thanks to the large quantity of universities and training centers that exist in the area, all of which were created in response to ongoing industry demand. The cluster has made a concerted effort to join forces collaboratively with several technological universities and colleges to adapt engineering courses, or create new ones when necessary.

The State of Mexico Cluster stands out as an automotive hub in Mexico, and is promoted to international investors via a Cluster Route, conceived to allow interested parties to experience and understand the diversity of the companies throughout the region. This has also been considerably useful in improving external perceptions of the country.

Q: The automotive industry in the State of Mexico has expanded rapidly in recent years, but has this created any constraints in terms of available land, talent, and infrastructure for future expansion?

A: As one of the largest states in the country, the existing resources can easily handle new investment. With plentiful resources to accommodate new investors, the industry and the government must work responsibly to protect and harmonize the natural resources and infrastructure. Now that premium brands such as Infiniti, MercedesBenz, and BMW have made their plans clear, the cluster is considering which roles they will play in the development of the sector. Many companies in the cluster already supply these brands and their presence undoubtedly contributed to these premium brands’ decision to relocate within Mexico. The government and the private sector must work together to facilitate this type of investment, and all over the country clusters will be collaborating to ensure the state infrastructure is up to scratch and continues to develop, creating better paid and more stable sources of employment.

Q: Considering the 11% growth that the Mexican automotive industry experienced in 2014, how is the cluster preparing for the growth predicted in coming years?

A: In the short term, we would like to be able to measure our work not through numbers, but rather through people’s reactions to the cluster’s growth and investor interest. However, we will subsequently measure employee retention to gauge the success and sustainability of this growth. Businesses in the sector must be made aware of savvy infrastructure locations, reevaluate their human capital, and be able to locate financing schemes that are realistic for SMEs. It is important that even smaller players are able to contribute to the cluster’s response to demand and client requests. We aim to create free communications and trust between all those involved, particularly the R&D centers that are currently established in the area, including Ford, GM, Nissan, Magna, and the Mechanical Engineering Center of Investigation (CIMA), among others.