May 10th: With today being the tour of my company for the project, I left Faurecia with more questions than answers.
Before going into the company, our group had to do research on the company to understand what it was about and figure out what we still wanted to know more about. Essentially, Faurecia focuses their industry in both interior design and clean mobility. From our understanding, their products consisted of seating, interior, cockpit interface, and tech towards zero emissions. Based on research, the location we would be visiting was an R&D and Production site for clean mobility.
Once we arrived, we jumped right into a tour that had me confused from the beginning. Essentially, our guide took us through a small building that was doing different test simulations for the components of the car, including the muffler or engines. They did different tests for temperature, sound, and fatigue limits, with different chambers and technology made for testing each component. The technology seemed very advances, but my group was still confused about what we understood of the company tied into this facility.
Our guide informed us that the car producers come to Faurecia with an idea and size dimensions, which leaves Faurecia to make the prototypes and designs for the exhaust systems. This facility had a focus on testing and prototypes, while the production of the exhaust systems would be done at an alternate location. Additionally, at this facility, they had an innovation division that worked on creating new products that follow the innovations of the tech industry. This included technology of battery packs, fuel cells, and other technology for electric and autonomous cars. A part of this that strongly confused me was that they were not creating the tech per consumer request, as their other products are run, but rather they make the tech and have to have to pitch sales to the customers. This was addressed as a large difficulty for the company because often the car companies are working on the technology themselves, Faurecia is uncertain of the direction since they are a supplier, and they have to shift from supplying a demand to creating demand. After the facilities tour, it seemed to be that the biggest weakness of the company was that they do not have a lot of power in development since most of their products are based on customer request and their largest strength was the global sites they have which allow them to have a large customer base.
Following the facilities tour, we were able to sit for a presentation from a representative in HR. In this, they highlighted more of the things from my previous understanding of the company, such as Clarion electronics, interiors, and seating. One of the differences that I did not know about was where they were looking to expand the company in the future. They are looking towards the electric car industry, the commercial/shipping industry to make clean energy for boats, and investing in startups. What was surprising about the presentation was that it seems the company has a solid ground in the interior and exhaust industry, but they were looking to expand into two very large markets very quickly. Although it does fit into what their mission is focusing on and they have connections in the automobile industry already, it seemed like the focus of their expansions would only be good on paper. With the new information on where the company looks to go in the future, I’m not sure how our presentation will turn out since it threw us all for a surprise and we are still a bit confused.
One of the biggest concerns that I had with the company as a business student was the issue of branding. From the beginning of the presentation, our speaker said that there are many ways to pronounce the name of Faurecia, which speaks lowly for their brand equity. Additionally, they said its a problem for the company that they are producing a lot of products but are not well known because they do not print there name on their products, unlike their competitors. Both of these statements made me uneasy about the confidence the company has in their own brand and how they intend to market themselves.
After the tour of Faurecia, we returned back to the university to have lunch at Mensa. Following this, we had a lecture on German politics from Sebastian Geßler. Sebastian had a lot of personal experience in German politics, seeing that he worked with the Green Party for quite some time. In his lecture, he explained the different parties that exist within Bavaria and Germany as a whole, as well as how different parties have risen and fallen through history. With the Green Party on the rise as the second most popular party in Bavaria, he was able to give great insight on their platform and how they are viewed by a younger generation in comparison to the other left party that used to be in its place.
For dinner, a group of us returned to our usual spot of Vapiano’s where we shared in another great meal and made some great jokes about Faurecia. Overall today was a bit frustrating because our group left feeling confused about our company, but we were able to sit down as a group and figure out a plan to make our presentation work. The highlight of the day would have to be the “As you can see, I am French” jokes and others made at the expense of Faurecia.