Times are so tough in Mexico that Pl sticos Automotrices SA, the plastics molding arm of bus and truck builder Consorcio G Grupo Dina SA de CV, is taking any work it can get. And that includes the kitchen sink. The auto parts builder, which has suffered this year from a severe cutback in local sales of the group's vehicles as a result of Mexico's economic crisis, this month started making kitchen sinks using sheet molding compound for the domestic market.
Padsa, based at the huge Dina vehicle building works at Ciudad Sahag£n, north of Mexico City, took delivery of a special German-designed sink mold July 5. Padsa began work on the first of the initial 1,000 sinks the next day, said Gabriel Toscana, Padsa's projects and purchasing manager.
Another bright light for Padsa in the persistent gloom of the country's economic crisis is its first major contract with Chrysler Corp. to produce hoods and deck lids of sheet molding compound for its new JX-27 car project.
Padsa already has delivered a sample set of 101 parts to Chrysler. In July, the molder is making 630 parts. By December Padsa expects to make 6,400 hoods and deck lids a month.
Padsa is hiring about 30 workers to add two shifts for the Chrysler business. In October, Chrysler starts production of its sporty, two-door, 1996-model car in Mexico, largely for export to North America and Europe.
Padsa has invested almost US$6 million on new equipment to take on the contract. It has installed quick-mold-change equipment worth nearly US$1 million for its three 3,000- and 1,500-ton presses, and took delivery last month of three Japanese-made robots for precision bonding of car parts.
On the sink deal, Toscana pointed out that the SMC sheet used has a special color and marbled-effect finish.
``We have material for making samples. ... Then we will probably make around 800 units a month,'' he said.
He said the construction industry in Mexico still is very depressed, so Padsa is aiming at the replacement sink market through national wholesale distributors.
Meanwhile, Padsa sister firm Dina Composites SA de CV (Dicomsa), which does hand lay-up, also has kept busy. The plant just finished a US$1 million project converting 1,000 open-backed pickup trucks to closed camper-style service vehicles for Mexican telecommunications giant Telefonos de Mexico.
``We are hoping for another order from Telmex for about half the first number. We should know by mid-July,'' Toscana said.
For Dina and other Mexican bus and truck builders, the domestic market remains flat. Sales were down 83 percent between January and May compared with the same period in 1994, according to the national heavy vehicle producers group, Anpact.
But Dicomsa has won valuable export work from U.S. bus companies, including new Dina group subsidiary Motor Coach Industries Inc.
Dicomsa makes exterior fiberglass-reinforced plastic panels for about eight Motor Coach buses daily.