Innovation Focused 'Think Tank' for Auto Solutions in Mexico

Mexico's automotive industry is experiencing unprecedented growth and is quickly becoming one of the strongest auto manufacturing markets in the world.

Mexico has an estimated production volume of 3.3 million vehicles for 2015. And 83 percent of the production is exported, making Mexico the fourth largest exporter in the world.

Add in the recent influx of luxury vehicles now being produced in Mexico, and the question is no longer, "why invest in Mexico?" - but rather, "why not invest in Mexico?"

Innovation Focused 'Think Tank' for Auto Solutions in Mexico Mexico's Tultitlan site, pictured above, comprises product development laboratories, paint and intermediates production, logistics, and sales groups.

Domestic and international automakers are taking advantage of the country's increasingly highly-qualified and specialized workforce, competitive labor costs and free-trade agreements, resulting in a soaring number of investments. Automakers such as BMW, Audi, Daimler and Hyundai have all established new sites in Mexico.

BASF Mexicana, the umbrella company of all BASF divisions in Mexico, is similarly in a growth period.  There are 2,000 BASF employees within Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and more than 500 on our Coatings team specifically. Nearly 400 work at our Tultitlan site while more than 100 work alongside our OEM partners, assuring the right level of service. The Tultitlan site comprises product development laboratories, paint and intermediates production, logistics, and sales groups.

Add in the recent influx of luxury vehicles now being produced in Mexico, and the question is no longer, "why invest in Mexico?" - but rather, "why not invest in Mexico?"

But it's not just production that's growing. Mexico is becoming a hub for innovation in the automotive industry. Various automotive players have already installed research and development centers in Mexico and many more have made announcements of upcoming plans to do the same. This changes the expectations of the supply chain and the future role of the automotive industry in Mexico.

Pictured above is an inside look at Mexico's Tultitlan site. Pictured above is an inside look at Mexico's Tultitlan site.

In this era of tremendous change, our BASF Mexico team is focused on anticipating the evolving needs of current and potential customers. Right now, we are evaluating what the entire industry needs and are thinking differently about how to approach the value chain for the automotive industry.

To discover opportunities and potential solutions, BASF created a New Business Development Automotive Team. The team is focused on offering complete value propositions that align with key trends in the industry such as light weighting, eco-friendliness, e-mobility, heat management, design and safety, and comfort.  In addition, BASF is taking a new approach to meet the changing demands in Mexico. Previously, we were predominately recognized for being a reliable supplier drawing on an existing portfolio of products, now we are positioning ourselves to be an innovative solutions provider during the design phase.

Instead of a physical brick and mortar tech center location, we are creating a cross-divisional team that's focused on aggregating expertise and knowledge and applying it within the existing setup to create innovative solutions. By doing this, we are creating a 'think tank' for auto solutions across the organization. We also depend on the top universities in Mexico, Central America and Caribbean to supply out of box thinking and future talent for our company and industry.

Mexico is no longer just a manufacturing site; automakers are innovating here and creating new programs and products. BASF is making sure we're one step ahead in terms of providing the solutions our customer's need.

Innovation Focused 'Think Tank' for Auto Solutions in Mexico Pictured above is a panoramic of BASF's Tultitlan site.

Frank Hezel
Frank Hezel Vice President of BASF's Coatings Division in Mexico and Central America About the author: Frank Hezel is Vice President of BASF's Coatings Division in Mexico and Central America. Frank joined the company in 2000 working in R&D before switching to EC´s OEM Basecoat development laboratories. Throughout his time with BASF, Frank has been responsible for Basecoat Development for Automotive OEM and Plastic Parts, laboratories in Germany, France and Spain. Frank earned his doctorate in inorganic chemistry from Universität Karlsruhe (TH) and bachelor's in chemistry from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).