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German Auto Parts Makers Tour Southern U.S. Sites

Ten executives from German companies that serve the automotive industry are in Charlotte, N.C., and upstate South Carolina this week to investigate expansion sites. While rushing to expand in China, German automotive companies still consider the U.S. the most attractive market, in large part because BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi continue to increase sales here.

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From Charlotte Observer

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CHARLOTTE, NC —

On Wednesday the delegation was briefed by economists, site location experts and German executives on the regional business climate.

The group came to Charlotte as part of an annual U.S. tour arranged by the German trade consulting firm Forum Amerika. The tour always begins at the Society of Automotive Engineers show in Detroit before visiting factories and communities in the Southeast, said Friederike Suess of Forum Amerika.

Michael Campbell, director of economic development for the Charlotte Regional Partnership, persuaded Suess last year to bring her group to Charlotte for the first time.

While rushing to expand in China, German automotive companies still consider the U.S. the most attractive market, in large part because BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi continue to increase sales here, said Suess.

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Campbell urged the delegation to invest in the Charlotte region, citing its growing number of European firms, its status as a motorsports hub and the lack of union activities.

Executives present Wednesday represented software, engineering, logistics and other companies. Most were Tier 2 or Tier 3 suppliers. Among them was Gartner and Klinger Surface Technologies of Stuttgart, which electroplates automotive parts made by companies like Delphi and Eaton for use in BMW, Volkswagen and General Motors cars, said Jorg Hohnloser, an executive with the company.

“We travel to where the big boys go,” said Hohnloser. “We are very interested in the American market because of the volume.”

The group will also travel this week to Greenville, S.C., to tour BMW’s nearby plant and meet with officials from Clemson University, which has raised $90 million to build a graduate automotive engineering center in Greenville.

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