The search for new automotive manufacturing sites slowed this year as companies found it impossible to travel and business strategies fell into uncertainty in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Alexandra Segers has been watching it all. Segers, 52, an international site search consultant with Tochi Advisors in Atlanta, has had a busy career assisting auto and supplier projects in North America, Europe and China going back nearly a quarter century. She discussed market conditions with News Editor Lindsay Chappell. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: Did the pandemic and travel restrictions bring automotive site searches to a halt this year?
A: Some site selections were put on hold at least until the beginning of 2021. For companies [that] already have a plant in North America, it was easier to continue new searches as they have local staff to work it out with. One European client's site selection was ongoing when the pandemic reached North America. It stopped for some time, but after it became clear that it would not be possible for the owner to come to the U.S. for site visits, he relied on his U.S.-based team. We were able to finalize the site selection without the owner having seen the selected site in person.