French auto supplier Faurecia SA is investing $300 million in the United States to boost its production capacity in North America.
The three-year expansion plan takes in six new manufacturing plants, one of them dedicated to injection molding door panels and instrument panels for use in Faurecia interiors assembled in the region.
``North America has become a significant part of Faurecia's global business and market strategy,'' said Pierre Levi, chairman and chief executive officer of the global supplier based in Nanterre, France.
The company now does about $1.5 billion in business annually in North America, out of its more than $13 billion global sales base. Faurecia has been winning more business in North America, however, and expects to add $1 billion in sales by the end of 2009.
Since launching a North American business focus in 2000, the firm has won new contracts with General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Co., BMW AG and Volkswagen AG facilities in the region.
``In the past year alone, our revenue should reach about a 20 percent increase,'' said Jim Orchard, president of Faurecia North America.
Three of the six new plants will be in the Detroit suburbs of Sterling Heights and Fraser, with other facilities in Toledo and Northwood, Ohio, and Fountain Inn, S.C.
Fraser will house Faurecia's molding technology plant, making parts that will be used in just-in-time assembly facilities near customers' plants, Orchard said.
``In design and manufacturing, if we have a competitive advantage for skin or a molding technology, we're going to be doing that ourselves,'' Orchard said in a Jan. 11 telephone interview.
The firm will work with a supplier network for smaller parts such as door handles and trim.
Orchard declined to give any specific plans for the Fraser site, but noted it will be designed with space for expansion.
Faurecia also will bring its front-end module manufacturing to North America as part of its expansion plans.
The company will focus on building extensive systems that will include a glass-reinforced thermoplastic carrier, lighting and other components as part of a complete module.
The full expansion plan will include three interior parts plants, two seating operations and an exhaust systems manufacturing site.