Thursday we started our morning with a traditional Bavarian breakfast: sausage and pretzels. And for many locals, that included a beer. About an hour away from our hotel and into the countryside, we pulled up to a large barn like structure with picnic tables outside and people eating. I must say when we got off our massive coach bus and all the locals turned to look at us, it was blatantly clear we were tourists. Although a few people were not exactly thrilled to see us, we went about our business getting drinks and getting settled. We were surrounded by the beautiful sight of yellow fields. We were informed that rape seed was growing and was a major crop for Germany. Inside the barn, there was a deli counter set up with a variety of meats, most of them in sausage form. I just remember thinking, this is probably the most natural, organic meat coming straight from the country. A few moments later, our food arrived. We had soft pretzels in a wicker basket. In addition, we had sausages in a vat of boiling water in a large silver bowl. Personally, I’m German so I was used to sausages that did not look like hotdogs. Here is where my knowledge ended though. Unlike any sausage or hot dogs in the US, the process of eating these sausages was different. First, you had to cut the links apart, the intestines encasing the meat needed to be cut to separate the links. The group I was eating with had fun with this because after you cut two links one would splash back into the water, splattering hot sausage water on nearby neighbors. Second, the casing was not to be eaten. 19 students performed surgery on countless sausages trying to cut the skin off and still keep the meat together. It was definitely an experience and we had to work for our food rather than just picking what we wanted from the hotel buffet breakfast. Nonetheless, the food was very tasty and it was nice to act like a regular, even though we were the exact opposite.
Our company visit today was to Faurecia. Like a lot of company visits, we had to wear special gear to enter the facility. We wore shoe covers that reminded us of clown shoes, safety goggles, and massive white lab coats. We looked like mad scientists. We toured their production and packaging facilities to see the process of how and what they produce. We toured two main buildings, one for testing and the other for fulfillment. Faurecia mainly makes exhaust systems, and other technology features found in the cockpit. Their goal is to make the “cockpit of the future.” After a tour, they gave us a few presentations on their future. Faurecia is now investing in hydrogen. They hope to be able to make the motor behind hydrogen powered cars. I personally never really thought of hydrogen as a power source. Right now, I believe the main hype is electronic vehicles. I found there was little traction around other potential sources like hydrogen or propane. Right now hydrogen comes in liquid and gas forms, Faurecia prefers working with gas. The company currently faces two main challenges: public opinion and hydrogen gas storage. Faurecia takes a different approach to emobility but hopes that by making the investment now, by the time public opinion changes toward emobility, they will be at the forefront of the hydrogen powered game. We heard presentations on the different energy sources and what and how they are pursuing the future of emobility. For me, this was not the most interesting company visit we have had this far. Nonetheless, I learned insight into the process of deciding how to pivot your company and products towards trends. For some companies, their products will not be needed for electric cars. Faurecia knows that not every car in the future will need an exhaust system. With this in mind, they have decided to transition and invest in emobility.
Today was definitely full of new experiences and new insights. Today I learned two things: do not mess with Germans and their sausage and emobility does not just mean electric.