Feintool Hosts Customer Symposium in Nashville.
Feintool held its annual Customer Symposium in Nashville, TN on November 6-7, 2018. The two-day event included guest speakers, a private tour and dinner at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and a plant tour of the Feintool Nashville manufacturing facility. Approximately 40 guests representing 18 highly-valued customers and prospects came ready to learn, eat, and enjoy some country music.
Christoph Trachsler, CEO, Feintool US Operations, welcomed Symposium attendees with opening remarks and a Feintool update. Trachsler highlighted Feintool’s global strategy, including fineblanking and forming parts manufacturing in the U.S., Europe and Asia. He also discussed the company’s new electric sheet metal stamping capabilities, a result of the recent Jessen acquisition in July. He touched on how Feintool is strengthening its position as a leading automotive parts producer, whether manufacturing components for purely internal combustion driven, hybrid systems, or all electric driven vehicles.
Industry Forecasts Remain Steady
Kevin Riddell, Senior Manager, LMC Automotive, took the stage to share industry forecasts for North and South America engine and transmission production and the US Hybrid and Electric Vehicle market. He addressed market uncertainty regarding CAFÉ standards, international trade agreements, and the cost of oil, as well as the shifting demand from cars to SUVs. Even though the automotive market is expected to be volatile for the next several years, Riddell expects the volume of automotive components to remain steady.
Riddle also spoke of “electrification as a slow trip” given the lack of charging infrastructure but explained that while the electric vehicle market will take time to evolve, there is a significant opportunity for companies like Feintool because of the shift in vehicle sourcing. He explained that in the U.S., only 30 percent of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are imported, compared to two-thirds of electric vehicles.
Adding Capabilities to Meet Customer Demand
Lars Reich, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Feintool US Operations, discussed Feintool’s investment, expertise and growth in secondary operations. Widely known as the technology leader in fineblanking and forming, Feintool has implemented new capabilities in double disc grinding, induction heat treat, capacitor welding, CNC turning and milling, assembly, and automated gauging and quality checks. Each of these areas supports customer needs for ready-to-assemble components, and Reich explained that the company added these in-house capabilities to ensure Feintool customers have access to quality and cost-effective parts.
The symposium also included a conversation with Alexander Edwards, President, Strategic Vision, and an automotive research leader and developer of tools used to measure decision-making, human behavior, attitudes and perceptions. Edwards spoke about the future of mobility, consumer preference for electrification, automation and shared mobility.
He explained that companies shouldn’t “put all of their eggs into the electrification market” citing concerning consumer survey data. He cautioned that until we solve the location and availability of charging stations, consumer demand for electronic vehicles would not take off. He explained that based on purchase data, Tesla owners represent a very small demographic slice of the automotive buying market. According to Edwards’ data, while 42 percent of people “love” adaptive driving assist, only 9 percent feel the same way about full autonomous capabilities. Further, he explained there is a strong sentiment against autonomous capability given safety concerns.