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

The news from our neighbors south of the border is here. Mexico continues to be a big winner, with large investments continuing in the automotive, electronics, appliance, rail, and energy verticals. Brazil’s manufacturing growth this year has been ...
Dec 09, 2021

The news from our neighbors south of the border is here. Mexico continues to be a big winner, with large investments continuing in the automotive, electronics, appliance, rail, and energy verticals. Brazil’s manufacturing growth this year has been nothing short of impressive, and new investment plans reflect the future optimism. Argentina has some interesting developments in clean energy and automotive, while Chile’s tech investments reach new highs. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.

Mexico

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

  • UK’s Bacanora Lithium plans to invest $800 million in the next three years and $2 billion in the next 10 years in Sonora for the exploration and extraction of lithium.

  • Fasemex, the local metal fabrication group, and Freightcar America (FCA) are investing an additional $60 million to expand their Coahuila railcar plant. FCA and Fasemex established a freight railcar joint venture in 2019, with Fasemex providing machine, milling, and welding services. They produced their 1,000th railcar at the plant this summer, and the expansion will create an additional 300 local jobs.

  • Next.e.GO Mobile, the German manufacturer of electric vehicles and sustainable mobility systems, wants to enter the Mexican market and is cooperating with Questum, a subsidiary of the Mexican industrial consortium Grupo Quimmco. Together they want to set up a production facility in the form of a micro-factory. e.GO’s unique 5G-ready micro-factory is perfectly suited not only to serve the growing Mexican market but also to supply spare parts to other e.GO facilities in the Americas.

  • Georgia-based Kloeckner Metals has broken ground on a new $8 million plant in Querétaro. After 17 years servicing Mexico out of Kloeckner Metals Monterrey, located in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon, Kloeckner Metals Querétaro will be the company’s second facility in Mexico. The new 84,000-square-foot plant is in the municipality of El Marqués, in the O'Donnell Industrial Park. It is expected to be operational in the spring of 2022.

  • France-based Plastibell Clayens, the supplier of plastic components for the medical, electrical, automotive, and aerospace industries, will invest a total of $23 million over the next two years for an expansion of its Torreón factory. It expects employment at the facility to grow from 300 to 760 by 2024.

  • Shanghai-based Daimay Automotive Interior celebrated the ribbon cutting of Plant II in the Finsa Industrial Park in Ramos Arizpe at the same time as it broke ground for Plant III. Plant III, with an investment of $30 million, will produce components for the other two plants in the same industrial park.

  • Kawasaki Motores de Mexico is investing $265 million to expand their facility in Nuevo León to produce all-terrain vehicles starting in 2023.

  • TE Connectivity, the Swiss American consumer electronics company, has plans for a new plant in Ciudad Juárez, which will create 500 new jobs. This is the company's third plant in the town.

  • Vernicolor, the French supplier of plastic sub-assemblies for automotive, opened its new $6 million plant in Coahuila, creating 500 jobs. Coahuila is home to one of the most important automotive clusters in Mexico.

  • Proma, the Italian supplier of automotive components, specializing in seat structures and mechanisms, body assemblies, and front-end suspension crossbeams, will invest $6.4 million for the construction of a new plant in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. This will be their first location in Mexico and will help them position themselves close to their customers in North America.

  • Four companies recently announced big plans in Mexico, including a new factory and several major expansion projects. Phillips Industries, Grupo Industrial Saltillo, Stanley Black & Decker, and Whirlpool join a recent wave of companies announcing investments. This latest round totals more than $200 million and will create 3,100 jobs.

  • Pirelli, Italy’s tire giant, plans a $36 million expansion to increase production capacity at its plant in Silao. The investment will increase production capacity to 7.2 million tires per year and create 150 new jobs.

  • Mexico’s exports of auto parts grew by an annualized rate of 22.5% through the first four months of this year, according to Economy Ministry data. Industry analysts cited increased regional content requirements under the new USMCA trade agreement as boosting exports to the United States and Canada.

  • U.S. home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool reported plans to expand operations at its manufacturing plant in the northern state of Coahuila. The $120 million expansion will upgrade infrastructure and add line capacity to produce side-by-side French-door refrigerators

  • U.S.-owned plastic components manufacturer NYX Mexico Plastics reported plans to construct a new production plant in the northern state of Coahuila. The $25 million site is expected to produce plastic parts for door panels, central consoles, glove compartments, and other automotive interior components.

  • Mexico’s national utility, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), announced plans to construct a large-scale solar energy generation park in the northwestern state of Sonora in conjunction with the state government. The $1.7 billion project is projected to have capacity of 1,000 MW and will be offered to contractors via international tender.

  • Mexican metal coating and finishing services provider Aminsa inaugurated a new plant in the central state of Aguascalientes. The $4 million facility will provide electrophoretic painting (e-coating) services to area industries.

  • Mexico’s Grupo Vasconia industrial group reported plans to establish a new aluminum plant in the eastern Gulf state of Veracruz. The estimated $50 million facility is expected to provide aluminum to help the group’s industrial products division capitalize on growing demand under the new USMCA North American free trade agreement.

  • U.S. electrical components maker Sensata Technologies will invest $10 million to construct a new plant to produce parts for the automotive industry in the central state of Aguascalientes. Included in the investment is a new specialized laboratory to promote the creation of new technologies.

  • French metal components supplier Le Bélier initiated construction of a new manufacturing plant in the central state of Guanajuato. The $68 million facility is expected to produce molded aluminum automotive components and include a foundry school.

  • UK-based Unilever is projecting Mexico investments of approximately $275 million over the next three years to increase production of manufactured goods for export. Efforts to boost output will focus on processed foods, in particular ice cream.

  • Irish food and beverage ingredients maker Kerry inaugurated a new manufacturing plant in the central state of Irapuato. The amount of investment was not specified for the plant, which will produce flavoring ingredients for products such as beverages, snacks, meats, dairy products, and baked goods.

  • Sweden-based automotive safety systems supplier Autoliv will build a new manufacturing plant in the central state of Aguascalientes. The $35 million factory is expected to produce advanced steering systems beginning in 2022.

Brazil

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

  • Renault launched its first Re-Factory to refurbish semi-new autos. The Re-Factory is in São Jose dos Pinhais and will remanufacture about 180 autos per day (45,000 per year). It will utilize 3D printing and automation and is fully integrated with Industry 4.0 concepts.

  • Brazil’s steel consumption has grown by 24% in 2021, in line with the economic recovery. Expectations are that the consumption will keep climbing, growing no less than 5% in 2022. Steelmakers like Gerdau, Arcelor Mittal, and Usiminas have made massive investments to support this growth.

  • Locally based Brametal continues to expand its Linhares facility to add new capacity with a focus on the production of goods to support the expansion of solar energy and wind power, two of the most promising segments of energy in the country.

  • American engine, filtering systems, and power generation manufacturer Cummins is reporting record growth in the country of 50% YOY, reaching 47,000 engines produced (30% higher than the pre-pandemic level). 65% of the engines go to the automotive industry, especially trucks and buses. The company is forecasting 5%-10% growth in 2022.

  • Luxembourg-based packaging company Ardagh Metal keeps expanding by adding capacity to its Jacarei facility. With the recent investments, this plant is now South America’s largest manufacturing facility of sleek metal beverage packaging (read: cans).

  • Novelis, the American industrial aluminum company, keeps investing in the expansion of its Pindamonhangaba plant, where it produces aluminum rods and bars. With investments of over $150 million, the company has grown its production capacity to 680,000 tons a year while its recycling capacity is now over 490,000 tons a year.

  • The off-road/highway equipment segment has recorded 39% growth in sales YOY, reaching 31,198 units sold. The segment has recorded YTD sales of 9,500 excavators, 7,500 wheel loaders, and over 7,150 backhoes.

  • BMW will invest $100 million in its Araquari facility to produce new X3 and X4 platforms. The new investment in the production lines will also include improvements in the whole factory, especially in areas concerning digital manufacturing and software. As per BMW’s president, “Brazil is by far the largest potential for BMW in Latin America given the sophistication and age of its population.” BMW has invested over $700 million to produce passenger cars in Brazil.

  • Germany-based Siemens, in a joint effort with Brazil’s MWM engines, has built important applications using Brownfield Connectivity’s gateway solutions to collect data from machines located on its manufacturing floor. The whole company is now collecting data and using Siemens MindSphere to save data on its server. Augmented reality is also in use to provide preventive maintenance.

  • The Brazilian Machine Tool Builders Association, ABIMAQ, is forecasting 4% growth in the consumption of machinery for 2022. The association reported that 2021 was a very positive year in terms of consumption as the segment doubled compared to 2020.

Costa Rica

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

  • Bayer is expanding its presence in the country and will build a new 28,000-square-meter, state-of-the-art production facility in Alajuela with a total investment of $200 million.

Colombia

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

  • Industrial production increased 13.7% YOY in September.

  • September’s exports increased 40.4% YOY with a value of $3.57 million, where manufacturing exports represented 24.2%.

Chile

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

  • Tech companies’ investment projects in the country jumped to 173 in September. The investment forecast is $4.3 billion over the next four years.

Argentina

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

  • Compared to the pre-pandemic period, industrial activity for September increased 14.7% compared to September 2019, and the annual activity is 6.1% above the total in 2019 (20.2% above 2020).

  • Bayer announced an investment of $50 million in the next three years to improve production capacity of their current operations in country.

  • The Australian company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) will invest $8.4 billion for the development of green hydrogen projects.

  • Eramet has just confirmed the construction of a plant for the production of lithium carbonate in the province of Salta with an investment of $600 million.

  • Volkswagen will invest $1.26 billion over the next five years to manufacture a new family of entry-level automobiles in Argentina and Brazil.

  • Changan Argentina, the local arm of the Chinese automaker, announced an investment of $20 million to begin producing the MD201 light utility vehicle in La Rioja. It is an urban cargo vehicle, which until now had been imported from China.

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Author
Carlos Mortera
International Director, Latin America
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