Financially struggling Collins & Aikman Corp. has won a multibillion-dollar contract to supply much of the interior for the 2006 Ford Futura sedan.
The contract is a big win for the company, which lost a total of $38.7 million in 2001 and 2002, and has lost $15.5 million through the first six months of this year. Its stock price has been pummeled in the past two weeks on reports it was on the verge of losing contracts with DaimlerChrysler AG, its largest customer, with 30 percent of sales.
C&A will provide the design, engineering, purchasing and other responsibilities for most of the Futura's interior, including the instrument panels, integrated cockpit systems, front and rear door panels and more. The company appeared to grab all but the Futura's overhead systems and seats. Production will begin in 2005.
The new business also will add another factory to C&A's operations. The firm will act as ``lead supplier'' in a new supplier park that will be added to Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, assembly plant.
The molder cannot discuss any details about its plans in Mexico, but Ford noted in an Oct. 6 announcement that the park will house 19 suppliers.
The Futura will fit between the Focus and the upcoming Five Hundred in Ford's lineup. The car will be based on the Madza6 platform, which will serve as a base for as many as 10 new vehicles for the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands in the next several years.
David Stockman, the C&A chief executive officer who took over in August, said the contract will ``broaden and diversify our customer base.'' Stockman, co-founder of private equity firm Heartland Industrial Partners, engineered the purchase of C&A in 2000. In an effort to grow the company, he has made several acquisitions, notably the TAC-Trim division of Textron Inc. last year.
The Ford contract eventually could help C&A offset the loss of business from Chrysler. A dispute with C&A over pricing, quality, delivery and other issues prompted the automaker to begin opening up much of its business with the Troy, Mich., company to bidding by other suppliers.
Ford represented about 20 percent of C&A's sales last year, ranking it as C&A's third-largest customer behind DaimlerChrysler AG and General Motors Corp.
Stockman declined to detail the value of the contract. Industry experts estimate that the Futura interior contract represents $1,000 of content. The Hermosillo, plant will have an annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles.
If production meets that number, the C&A contract could be worth more than $2 billion during a seven-year production period.