On behalf of Temel Gaskets, I recently attended a week-long visit to Michigan as a part of a delegation of Turkish Automotive Parts and Tool Manufacturers. TAYSAD from Turkey scheduled the series of meetings that included Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Michigan State University, Oakland University, Automation Alley, and more.
The delegation’s first stop was Automation Alley offices. There we were introduced to representatives from Automation Alley, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, OESA, and Invest USA. Michigan has long been the hotbed of major automotive industry players. It has offered innovations that took the global auto industry on to the next level year after year. These presenting organizations have all contributed to Michigan’s role as a viable platform for new companies to flourish and existing companies to reach their true potential.
Kathy Kleckner, the Director of Business Attraction at Michigan Economic Development Corporation, pointed out many reasons why Michigan is likely to yield a high return on investment for the automotive industry. Kathy mentioned in her presentation that the economy in Michigan is at a 10-year high, and the gross state product is projected to hit $408B. Michigan is already ranked number 1 as the state with the highest number of automotive supplier establishments. As of 2013, Michigan had 790 suppliers. Ohio, in second place, had only 479. Keep in mind that OEMs appreciate it when suppliers establish locations close to their operations.
One of the leading sources for statistics on the automotive industry, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), provides extensive coverage on several of the key industry facts presented by Kathy Kleckner. Published in CAR’s 2015 report, the U.S. is the leading investor in North America, with $46B from 2010 to 2015 out of an overall investment volume of $69.6B. In 2011, automotive R&D projects received $11.7B in the U.S., which resulted in approximately $1,200 per vehicle sold during that same year. This means that Michigan isn’t just leading the U.S. auto industry; it’s leading the world.
Moving on with the tour, Michigan State University took the delegation to their school of engineering, which supports their automotive research lab. They conduct groundbreaking research that may revolutionize the future of automobiles. Their research primarily focuses on improving the existing propulsion technology for internal combustion engines. While it is funded by companies that lead the automotive industry, researchers also aim to discover findings that may positively impact many other industries as well.
According to CAR, “vehicle weight is a considerable factor in vehicle fuel economy; it is estimated that a 10 percent reduction in vehicle mass can result in a fuel economy improvement of up to 5-7 percent.” So it wasn’t all that surprising to see that Michigan State University had material sciences as one of their focal points within their automotive research lab.
Later, we visited Oakland University. Here they take an innovative approach to senior design assignments and encourage its students to participate in multi-disciplinary projects. This allows students to gain a deeper understanding of their primary field of study while incorporating complimentary ideas. The students explore outside-the-box applications for concepts from their fields.
It is clear to me and the rest of the delegation that both Michigan State University and Oakland University have served as great resources in equipping a new work force for all the major auto companies in the area.
During this same week, I attended supplier meetings with Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). These highlights in our itinerary and were successful due the collective efforts of the group. As a long time supplier to both Ford and FCA, Temel Gaskets is looking forward to exploring additional opportunities through new products and expanding over to other parts of the global supply chain.