For nearly 60 years, the DRÄXLMAIER Group has been developing high-quality interior solutions that have gone unmatched in the automotive industry. “We want to deliver a full package to the customer that fulfills their needs and deliver high-quality standards at a competitive price,” says Stefan Bude, president and CFO of DAA Draexlmaier Automotive of America LLC, the group’s North American division.

The DRÄXLMAIER Group is a German automotive supplier based in Vilsbiburg, Germany. It specializes in interior and electrical/electronic systems. The family owned company operates more than 60 locations in more than 20 countries and concentrates on the premium automotive segment, covering the entire process as a full-service supplier. “We provide solutions from the cradle to the grave,” Bude says. “Our company participates in the development and design, and provides parts according to the specifications of the customer for the life of the product.”

Draexlmaier Automotive of America, which oversees the company’s interior business in North America, is headquartered in Duncan, S.C., with branches in Mexico and Nicaragua. “Our main customers are German OEMs and we are very lucky because they are performing well in the market,” Bude notes. “They share the same spirit we do for good craftsmanship, quality and customized solutions for the end consumer. Our customers can expect to receive solutions from the cradle to the grave.”

Customized Design

Recently, the DRÄXLMAIER Group secured a partnership with Tesla Motors after the Californian startup approached the supplier 15 months ago to bring in its expertise to the interior of Tesla’s Model S. “The Model S is a successful, recognized car in the premium segment, and therefore a good fit for a partnership,” Bude says. “Tesla approached us because it thought we could further enrich the interior of its luxury, high-end car and we made a customized new design for the armrest of the center console.”

DRÄXLMAIER Group takes pride in its stitch lines and precision cuts of fabric that result in a softer feel to the armrest of the Model S. After designing the interior prototype, Draexlmaier Automotive of America began manufacturing the interior fabric at one of its plants in Mexico earlier this year. “We need to have a lot of craftsmanship and train people to do precise work and repeat it every day,” Bude adds. 

In order to accommodate the tight deadlines set by its new customer, DRÄXLMAIER Group sent a team of developers to California. “We brought our own people to the Tesla facility to improve and optimize the customer interface and be close to meet the demanding timelines of this fast-paced customer,” Bude says. “That’s how we accomplished the project – sitting desk to desk with them.”

DRÄXLMAIER Group does not make promises to customers it cannot keep. By falling into that trap, a company can disappoint the customer and develop a bad reputation, Bude says. “It was our challenge to be as flexible as possible and without jeopardizing our quality standards and validation cycles to make sure we had a solid, high-quality end-product,” he says. “Tesla is a demanding, sophisticated customer with a time-challenging product, but at the end of the day we also have certain quality standards we have to keep.”

Further Optimization

“We are successful because we are dedicated to the customers,” Bude says. “We try to differentiate us from the market though quality and performance. We give our customers high-quality products and provide a range of innovative solutions.”

Because DRÄXLMAIER Group is customer-focused, it needs to be responsive to market needs. The company pays attention to the latest trends – which right now is sustainability – and delivers on those demands. For example, the company recently introduced new technology that uses visible natural fiber materials for vehicle interiors. “We developed the door panels for the BMW i3 with this new technology,” Bude says. “This is what our customers are entering into now and they want to see more green cars that are more efficient.”

Moving forward, the company is confident its position in the industry will lead to further growth. German OEMs have adopted a more ambitious growth strategy in North America, Bude says, and the DRÄXLMAIER Group believes it can participate in that growth. “Audi, BMW and Mercedes are opening plants in Mexico,” he adds. “We are optimistic that our business in the region will continue to grow in the future. Because of our history in the Americas, we are confident we are in the right place and feel comfortable with our product.” 

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