PUEBLA, MEXICO—General Motors Corp.'s not-yet-announced plan to build two new models in Mexico has resulted in one of its suppliers keeping relatively quiet about its own new plant.
Pierre Burelle, founder of France's Cie. Plastic Omnium SA, revealed his company plans to build another plant in Mexico to supply GM.
An Omnium brochure says that a plant will be built near Monterrey, Mexico, in 1999 which should be operational by mid-2000. The plant will produce fuel tanks and bumpers for two new vehicles for General Motors.
But Gerard Didienne, general director of Plastic Omnium Autom¢vil SA de CV's Puebla plant, denied earlier statements by Omnium officials that the plant will be in Coahuila, near GM's plant in Saltillo, Mexico, in the Ramos Arizpe industrial park.
Location, amount to be invested and other details have not been decided.
``Plans for the new plant should be defined by the first few days of July,'' he said.
Burelle and Didienne spoke at the June 19 inauguration ceremony for Omnium's $24 million Puebla plant. The brochures were distributed at the inauguration ceremony.
One Omnium representative said GM wants Omnium to keep the issue quiet. GM spokeswoman Maria Eugenia Santiago said June 24 by telephone from General Motors de Mexico SA de CV offices in Mexico City that ``GM policy is to keep all future plans confidential.''
The Omnium plant could be near one of three existing Mexican GM plants — a vehicle assembly and engine plant in Saltillo, a truck and motor plant in Toluca, or an assembly plant in Silao.
Phillipe Claye, who runs Omnium's North American operations, mentioned the Ramos Arizpe site in an April interview with Plastics News. The Silao site also may still be in the running, since Omnium representatives traveled to Guanajuato state to meet with Gov. Vicente Fox Quesada the day after the Puebla plant opened.
Even with the lack of definition, suppliers for Omnium's new plant are lining up. Ditemsa SA de CV, which opened its mold-making plant in Saltillo on June 3, is eager to work with Omnium.
Alfredo Lopez Villareal, Ditemsa's project manager for plastic injection molds, said his company is in talks with Omnium. French mold manufacturers supplied tooling for the Puebla plant.
About two years ago, Omnium accepted the invitation from Volkswagen de Mexico SA de CV to site a plant near VW's plant in Puebla. Construction began in March 1997, and by September Omnium began producing enough bumpers and fenders for 300 newly redesigned Beetles per day.
The plant now injection molds four fenders and two bumpers for 500 Beetles a day. By the beginning of 1999, production is scheduled to reach 850 a day.
Omnium's 102,600-square-foot Puebla plant supplies parts that cover 33 percent of the VW Beetle's body surface. Omnium, based in Levallois, France, claims to supply 50 percent of the European market for plastic fenders.
The Puebla plant imports all its resins, with suppliers including Montell, BASF and GE Plastics. The operation has three lines molding fenders on 3,150-ton Husky presses; two of the three lines now are in operation.
In addition to automotive work, Omnium is considering Mexican production of plastic garbage containers.
Omnium's Urban Services division may have manufacturing activities in Mexico within two to three years, said Henri Steffers, director of Zarn Inc., a Reidsville, N.C., unit of Omnium.
The division already has a plant in Santiago, Chile, Steffers said.
A smaller city like those in Guanajuato state may offer a good opportunity for the unit's first contract in Mexico, Steffers added. Omnium is also in preliminary talks with the city of Puebla. A representative for the division has been appointed, and will operate from Mexico City.
``It will take a year or so to analyze the situation, and find conditions on where to operate,'' he said.