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Swedish company comes to America's automotive capital

SACC-Detroit members visited Autoliv, the Swedish manufacturer of automotive safety systems whose American plant is in Auburn Hills, MI.


Pontus Söderström welcomed Swedish American Chamber of Commerce-Detroit members to Autoliv, gathering everyone for a tour of the plant. He asked Lennart Johansson, chairman to SACC-Detroit to introduce some new board members: Malin Verga was elected as executive director and Andreas Waller as president to serve together with Johansson. He also introduced Tom Mark, director.

Söderström presented information about Autoliv's mission and vision, which included everything from the launch of the first seat belt in 1956 to their thoughts about the future with autonomous cars. He explained how the air bags are engineered, how seat belts were developed over time and how Autoliv strives to make their processes as lean as possible. It was clear to the guests how proud and passionate Söderström is about Autoliv and their goal to save more lives.

Autoliv is now the biggest manufacturer in the world — of safety belts, airbags and other safety equipment — and manufacturing continues to grow. Autoliv stated that they need to hire an additional 200 engineers for their Michigan operation. Johansson confirmed that most member companies of SACC-Detroit are also in need of more engineers, adding that during recent years about 52 percent of all engineers come from China and India, 43 percent graduate from schools in Europe and only about 5 percent from the U.S. Consequently, America is running out of engineers and either need to outsource more engineering jobs or graduate more engineers. Traditionally, Michigan has had the largest number of engineers in the U.S. Therefore, the partnership between Detroit Swedish Foundation (DSF, where Johansson is also the Chair) and SACC-Detroit would allow the members of SACC-Detroit to increase their contribution to allow DSF to give more grants to any student in Michigan who would like to study engineering in Michigan or Sweden. Also, DSF would give one scholarship per year to study art at Cranbrook Academy of Art, near Detroit.

Another representative from Autoliv, Patrick Patercsak, guided the SACC-Detroit members through the labyrinth facilities with a lot of passion and pride for Autoliv and their accomplishments. Patercsak showed how seat belts are tested again and again to ensure quality and how the rapid 3D-printer has sped up and simplified the process to meet the needs of their customers. Guests saw many test dummies and saw the large building where the crash tests take place. The tests at Autoliv are done in heat, cold, salt and other conditions to make the test results as authentic as possible.

It was an interesting and well-organized event.


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