Washington — The state of Michigan is ramping up efforts to attract more Chinese investment in the auto sector.
The state’s newly appointed automotive adviser, Nigel Francis, will lead an automotive-focused delegation on a nine-day mission to China in a bid to boost co-investment and trade between Michigan and Chinese automotive companies, Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Friday.
More than 100 Chinese auto-related companies have operations in Michigan and total Chinese investment here is $1 billion, the state said, with 95 percent of that automotive related. Michigan ranks ninth in the United States in Chinese investment and third in number of deals, the state said.
A Chinese firm, Geely Automotive, purchased Sweden's Volvo Car Co. from Ford Motor Co, in 2010. China’s Pacific Century Motors — an investment arm of the Beijing municipal government — acquired Saginaw-based steering parts operations of General Motors Co. after emerging from bankruptcy and renamed it Nexteer Automotive Corp.
Earlier this year, Wanxiang Group completed its purchase of battery maker A123 Systems, with about 1,000 employees and contractors in Michigan.
“More than 100 Chinese auto-related companies have established operations in Michigan, and my recent mission to China reaffirmed there are great opportunities to open doors for Michigan auto suppliers and attract more Chinese auto companies to invest and create more jobs here,” Snyder said. “Nigel and his team will build on and strengthen relationships we developed and carry the message that Michigan is the location of choice for automotive investment in North America.”
The mission will include two days at the Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China, with executives from nearly all of China’s automakers and top suppliers. The delegation will also visit the automotive centers of Shanghai and Ningbo. At each stop, the delegation will be hosted by local governments, attend meetings with companies, give presentations, and conduct tailored matchmaking meetings. The new trip comes after Snyder’s recent trip to Asia.
The delegation will include executives from Clayton & McKervey, a Southfield-based international tax and accounting services firm, KC Mehta Consulting:, a Rochester Hills-based automotive consulting services company, Midland-based Dow Corning Co., Mark One Corp., an automation and surface preparation equipment firm based in Gaylord and Pilot Systems International LLC, a Farmington Hills-based powertrain controls systems engineering firm.
“Michigan’s strategic priorities for success in our automotive industry are directly connected to global outreach, and China is our highest priority and greatest opportunity,” Francis said. “Michigan can partner with China on every step of its automotive industry evolution and growth — from R&D and prototyping to clean tech and connected vehicles.”
Francis was named Michigan’s auto adviser and senior vice president of the automotive industry office by Snyder on Sept. 1. The Automotive Industry Office and automotive adviser position are part of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.