Conix Corp., a molder of plastic automotive bumper fascias, plans to expand its European production base significantly.
The Dearborn, Mich., auto supplier will more than double the size of its plant in Genk, Belgium, by the year 2000 and will begin building a 120,000-square-foot plant in Halewood, England, next year, said Conix President John Tobiczyk.
Conix is a joint venture owned 51 percent by auto supplier Magna International Inc. of Aurora, Ontario, and 49 percent by Ford Motor Co. The expansion plans first were announced to Magna shareholders Dec. 9, although the level of investment was not disclosed.
The Genk plant will grow from 50,000 to 110,000 square feet. The company is adding six injection presses with clamping forces of 1,500-4,000 tons, Tobiczyk said. The facility will include additional foam-in-place manufacturing to make polyurethane energy-absorbing fascia materials.
The plant recently won a contract from Ford Motor Co. to make fascias, molded from thermoplastic olefins, on its revamped Mondeo sedan due out in Europe for the 2001 model year, Tobiczyk said. Ford assembles the Mondeo at a nearby plant in Genk.
The plant currently molds fascias, the outer skin of the bumper, for the Mondeo station wagon. Those fascias now are made of polycarbonate, but are being converted to TPOs.
The Halewood plant also will mold TPO fascias and potentially make other exterior components, Tobiczyk said.
Conix will install injection presses with clamping forces to 4,000 tons. The number of presses used at the plant is undetermined, Tobiczyk said.
The company will supply the fascias to Ford's adjacent Halewood plant. The Ford facility also will assemble the new Jaguar X400, due out by 2002.
With the new plant, Conix will have four bumper-fascia facilities. The company also has plants in Nashville, Ill., and Guelph, Ontario, and operates a tooling shop in Concord, Ontario.
The supplier intends to move at a cautious pace, Tobiczyk said.
``We intend to globalize and grow in a conservative fashion,'' he said. ``This [expansion] gives us more capacity for some new programs.''
Conix was 13th on Plastics News' most recent ranking of North American injection molders, with $309 million in fiscal 1997 sales.