Day Twelve: Two Final Company Visits

Our final two company visits were on this Thursday afternoon, first to Delphi Technologies, then the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.  We went into one of their conference rooms, where we were given an overview of their company by an executive who was actually an alumnus of Pitt!  He was an engineering student there, and eventually decided to move back to China because the job market in Pittsburgh wasn’t too kind to him.  Interestingly, he was able to make a successful switch from the engineering side to the business side when he was promoted to General Manager of Sales at Delphi, and he even earned his MBA soon after.

From our overview of Delphi, we learned that they are a company that primarily manufactures internal combustion engine systems.  They have sold over 30 million engines in China and around 17 million in the U.S., but those figures are expected to grow significantly in the coming years.  Delphi has been working to create engines that run mostly on electrical power; however, doing so will be tough.  Electric vehicles aren’t all that profitable yet, and that’s due to the price of the electric batteries within the engines.  The cost of making an electric battery-powered engine is ridiculously high – it makes up half of an electric vehicle’s price by itself.  In the long-term, they are working towards a new battery design that is efficient and cost-saving.  After a Q & A session, we were led on a tour of their facilities.  After most of our company visits had been very business-focused, it was nice to get more of an engineering perspective and be able to see many of the rooms where engines were being tested.

After lunch, we were off to the American Chamber of Commerce, or ‘AmCham’ for short.  They serve over 1,500 companies and have over 3,000 members across the world.  Our speakers, Hank and Chris, talked to us about China’s economic plan in the long-term future and how it expects to aggressively invest in major sectors such as biopharmaceuticals, aviation, railroad, new and clean energy for transportation, ships, and high-end robotics.  China also has this “One Belt One Road” plan, which is a mega project covering around 65% of the world, focused on global infrastructure.  They want to go through with this plan in order to make the right global connections, which in turn will help them become a major influencer and world power economically.  One thing I found to be really interesting from their presentation was that China’s current urbanization and economic situation is quite similar to that of the U.S. back in the very early twentieth century.  Even the wealth inequality is very similar; many people got rich very quickly and their serious spending habits help stimulate the economy, while others remained very poor, especially in more rural areas.  It just amazes me how China is following such a similar path to the U.S., but is really trying hard to streamline this process and eventually surpass the country as an economic power.

Our last really busy day came to an end, and it turned out to be quite insightful.  I felt like I learned a lot more than I had on any other day of the trip.  Tomorrow, we will spend our final day in Shanghai at the Yu Garden and pitch business ideas to a panel of judges.  Hopefully, that will go over well.

-Colin

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