Automotive Industries Holding Inc. expanded its European business with the July 10 acquisition of Plastifol GmbH & Co. KG, a producer of automotive interior trim such as door panels and trays. It is the second European acquisition in about a year for the Minneapolis company. Automotive Industries paid about $60 million for privately held Plastifol, an Ebersberg, Germany-based firm that had sales of about $75 million last year. Plastifol's other plant is in Plattling, Germany.
Frederick Sommer, Automo-tive Industries president and chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview that Plastifol's technology is similar to some used by his firm in the United Kingdom and United States.
Plastifol mixes polypropylene flake with wood flour, extrudes it into sheet and forms it into substrates that then are covered with a vinyl skin. The firm also has a small injection molding operation, Sommer said.
Automotive Industries estimated the purchase will boost its European business to about 20 percent of total annual sales. It had 1994 sales of $512.8 million and profit of $32.7 million.
In its first European move about a year ago, Automotive Industries bought John Cotton Ltd.'s auto trim business in Manchester, England. The business has three plants in England.
Sommer said his firm has noplan to consolidate production in Germany or England, where its subsidiaries serve different customers. Plastifol's customers include Ford, Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche operations in Europe. All but Ford are new customers.
Automotive Industries now can serve Ford worldwide, Sommer said.
The purchase allows Automo-tive Industries to transfer design expertise among its trim plants, Sommer said. It extrudes wood stock in a Sheboygan, Wis., plant and forms it into trim panels in other plants in Sheboygan and Lebanon, Va.
Sommer said Automotive Industries' U.S. trim production relies more on injection molding than its European subsidiaries.