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International News From the Field: Mexico, Brazil, and Latin America

The news from our neighbors south of the border continues to impress. Multinationals like Dana, Whirlpool, Denso, and Nidec – to name a few – are investing heavily in Mexico. The country is seeing record-breaking automotive industry exports...
Aug 02, 2021

The news from our neighbors south of the border continues to impress. Multinationals like Dana, Whirlpool, Denso, and Nidec – to name a few – are investing heavily in Mexico. The country is seeing record-breaking automotive industry exports. In Brazil, the Italians, Norwegians, Japanese, and Chinese are pouring billions into local industry. Columbia and Costa Rica see investments in medical, battery, and microchip production. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.

Mexico

For more information, contact Carlos Mortera (cmortera@AMTonline.org).

  • In Q1, heavy vehicle production increased 41% YOY.

  • Denso, the Japanese automotive component supplier, announced an investment of about $10 million in Silao, where they will manufacture components such as alternators, equipment for air conditioning, and radiators.

  • Aminsa, a local company specializing in metallic coatings and finishes, opened a new plant in Aguascalientes with a total investment of $4 million.

  • JTEKT, the Japanese tier-one automotive supplier, announced it will expand its plant in San Luis Potosí with a $47 million investment. The expansion will create 120 new jobs and make the site the company's largest in North America. They produce electric power steering (EPS) systems, bearings, and hydraulic steering intermediate shafts for OEM customers in Mexico. With the expansion, the company hopes to open exports to North America and Japan.

  • Dana Inc., the American tier-one automotive supplier, will invest $40 million in a new plant in Nuevo León to manufacture axles for electric buses. This will create 350 new jobs.

  • Whirlpool will invest about $113 million over the next three years to implement a new production line for high-end French door refrigerators at its plant in Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila.

  • Wistron NeWeb, the Taiwanese electronics company, will invest $40 million to expand its operations in Ciudad Juarez. They will construct two new buildings, totaling 40,000 square feet. One building will be used to produce surface-mount components and the other for final assembly.

  • Due in no small part to the USMCA, Mexico is experiencing record automotive industry exports. During the first four months of 2021, the value of automotive industry exports totaled $37.4 billion. Almost 24%, or $8.8 billion, were auto parts exported to the United States.

  • Nidec Global Appliance, the 20-month-old division of Japan’s Nidec Corp., plans to invest another $83 million in its plants in Nuevo León, creating 360 new jobs.

Brazil

For more information, contact Achilles Arbex (aarbex@AMTonline.org).

  • Mercedes-Benz reported substantial growth in exports due to the economic recovery of Latin American countries like Chile, Peru, and Colombia. The bus division grew almost five times in the first quarter YOY and the truck division eight times.

  • Bener Maquinas, one of Brazil’s most traditional manufacturing technology distributors, reported substantial growth in the sales of machinery, particularly high-tech and high value-added equipment. The increase is largely due to the shortage of imported automotive components, which is pressuring the supply chain to boost domestic production.

  • Bridgestone, the Japanese auto parts supplier, will invest $140 million to expand its manufacturing facilities in Camacari. Plans are to expand production capacity by 25% to supply the increased demand from the automotive and truck OEMs.

  • An internal announcement confirmed that Great Wall Motors, the Chinese auto manufacturer, purchased the idle Mercedes-Benz plant in Iracemapolis. The plant ceased production last year. This follows GWM’s strategy of expanding globally by purchasing existing auto plants as they did in Thailand and plan to do in India.

  • The passenger car segment grew 57% YOY in the first six months of 2021, producing over 1.1 million units.

  • The Norwegian group Equinor, who has been active in Brazil since 2011, will invest $8 billion in new, offshore platforms in the pre-salt Santos area. Oil production is planned for 2024, utilizing new technologies and machinery used for exploration.

  • Italian Lamborghini will invest $60 million to build its first Brazil manufacturing facility in Santa Catarina. The plant will produce two models – a sedan and an SUV.

  • Brazilian steel producer Gerdau will invest over $350 million to expand capacities of its steel mills to supply the increased domestic demand.

  • The Brazilian Mining and Construction Equipment Association updated projections for 2021 to 25% growth YOY. Sales are up 58% this year despite 20%-40% price increases.

  • Local steel production is up 24% YOY with imports up 140%. This is due to a strong recovery driven by increased consumption in the construction, automotive, and capital goods segments.

Colombia

For more information, contact Carlos Mortera (cmortera@AMTonline.org).

  • Clarios, the company created when Johnson Controls sold its automotive battery business, announced an investment of more than $20 million in a new, state-of-the-art production process at its plant in Yumbo, Valle del Cauca, which will increase the life cycle of the batteries.

Costa Rica

For more information, contact Carlos Mortera (cmortera@AMTonline.org).

  • Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies (Terumo BCT), part of the Japanese Terumo Corp., announced an investment of $60 million to open a new manufacturing plant for medical devices.

  • Locally headquartered Establishment Labs will invest $35 million in its global operations, $16 million of which will go to a new high-tech mammary implant plant in the Coyol Free Zone.

  • Intel Costa Rica announced an investment of $600 million for a microchip plant, a move that is in line with recent near-shoring strategies seen within the industry.

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Author
Achilles Arbex
General Manager – AMT Brazil Operation
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