This year’s edition of the event was focused on technologies of the future and innovations in mobility. The most frequent topics of discussion were future vehicle autonomy, assistance systems, fuel-efficient drive systems and compliance with CO2 limits.
The American Midwest is a traditional industrial area where the automotive sector is dominant, which is of key importance also for the Czech Republic. The biggest American carmakers – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler (FCA) – are based in the Detroit area. The Czech Republic hosts a number of investors from this area, such as Lear, TRW Automotive, Visteon, Shape, Johnson Controls and Donaldson, and is working to attract others. The automotive industry accounts for approximately 20% of Czech industrial production and exports, whereas 2014 was a record year for the Czech Republic, with nearly 1.3 million vehicles manufactured here.
“On the occasion of the congress, we visited several major automotive firms in the region which are considering investing in the Czech Republic. Among CzechInvest’s existing clients, we looked into the possibility of expansions while also promoting Czech firms as suppliers. Sourcing capacities help to raise the Czech Republic’s profile and in future can bring us new investment projects,” explained Jan Fried, CzechInvest’s representative in New York.
The location of the Czech stand at this year’s congress in Detroit accurately illustrated the Czech Republic’s current situation, as it was set up next to the pavilion of Hyundai, one of the country’s biggest foreign investors. South Korea’s KOTRA investment agency, with which the Czech Republic is currently intensively developing economic cooperation, exhibited a short distance away.
“The decision to set up the Czech Republic’s national stand in Detroit was a natural response to the needs of Czech firms in their effort to penetrate the American market,” said Jan Kubata, director of the CzechTrade’s Chicago office.
The Czech Republic was represented in Detroit by the companies ASSA ABLOY – FAB, Česká Zbrojovka a.s. (SBU Auto & Aero) and ZKL Bearings CZ, a.s. “ASSA ABLOY – FAB, for example, presented its advanced systems for unlocking and securing vehicles by means of smartphones, contactless systems and smart keys, which inform the user about certain important vehicle parameters,” said Richard Schneider, CzechInvest’s automotive sector manager.
The Czech Republic was a subject of interest in the Midwest. Besides company officials, agents of CzechInvest and CzechTrade met with representatives of both the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan. “In recent years, there has been significant growth in the trade balance, which we consider to be a positive sign for reinforcing our cooperation,” said Maureen Krauss, Detroit Regional Chamber vice-president for economic development.
The Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Chicago organised for Czech and American partners an official wine tasting, which was attended by a number of important guests.
“I am very pleased that, thanks to cooperation between the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was possible to ensure a national stand for the Czech Republic at SAE. This trade fair confirms that our business entities’ interest in the American market is generally growing with respect to, among other things, the stability and strong growth of the local economy. We believe that the Czech Republic will be represented at the SAE trade fair also in the coming years and interest in companies’ involvement in this event will continue to rise,” said Bořek Lizec, Consul General of the Czech Republic in Chicago.