U.S. supplier Visteon Automotive Systems has opened a plant in India that could establish the company as the leading plastic-parts producer in that country.
The Dearborn, Mich., firm has begun production at an 180,000-square-foot plant in Chennai, India, that will mold parts including bumper fascias, instrument panel clusters, radiator tanks, center consoles and fan shrouds.
Visteon is investing $75 million for the new building, equipment and tooling, said Visteon site manager Horst Herzog.
The plant, which has 185 employees, operates seven Ube injection presses with clamping forces of 85-2,500 tons.
The facility is one of two new plants Visteon launched last year in India. The auto-parts maker, owned by Ford Motor Co., also opened a 120,000-square-foot plant on the same Chennai industrial campus to make starter motors and alternators.
The alternator plant, part of Visteon's Powertrain Control Systems India, will export those parts to other Asian countries.
The molding plant, however, primarily will serve carmakers in India. The plant will make air-conditioning systems with molded radiator tanks and fan shrouds for Hyundai Motor Co. in India. Other plastic parts will go to a nearby Ford assembly plant.
The investment in India for the two plants totals about $150 million, Herzog said. It makes the supplier a leader among parts producers in India, a country that Herzog said could someday explode with new business.
About 477,000 vehicles are sold each year in India, according to a study from consulting group Mathson Industries Inc. of Troy, Mich. That number could almost double soon after the year 2000, the group said.
``The only thing holding back the country is the lack of infrastructure, including roads and bridges,'' Herzog said. ``We want to be ready when the growth comes.''
Visteon operates a joint venture near New Delhi, India, with Indian carmaker Maruti Udyog Ltd. That plant makes only radiator parts.