More automotive component manufacturing jobs are heading to Eastern Europe, as vehicle lighting specialist Hella KGaA Hueck and Co. has decided to switch production from a British plant.
Meantime, Lippstadt, Germany-based Hella also has opened a 51,800-square-foot electronic component factory in Timisoara, Romania, to produce vehicle parts and systems such as pedal sensors, xenon ballasts, heating control units and overhead control units.
The workforce at the 10 million euro (US$12.7 million) unit will double to 400 by 2007, the firm said. The site also will accommodate a newly formed auto body-electronics product development division.
Hella announced it will close its Banbury, England, lighting plant, run by local offshoot Hella Manufacturing Ltd. in Banbury, England, by December 2007, cutting 450 jobs. Hella directors decided to close the site because of ``rapidly falling selling prices in the automotive market,'' along with cost hikes in materials and energy.
``There is insufficient business available at prices that would be necessary to sustain a production operation of HML's complexity over the long term,'' the firm said.
The Banbury facility employs 500 producing lighting products for auto groups in Britain including Jaguar, Land Rover, Honda and Nissan. The work will transfer mainly to units in Eastern Europe, according to Hella.
The German component group operates plants for car lighting and front-end modules: three in Slovakia, two in the Czech Republic and one in Slovenia.
Hella Group Chief Executive Officer Rolf Breidenbach acknowledged the Banbury workforce's great efforts to reduce costs and improve the unit's financial performance.
``However, despite good operational efficiency, future levels of plant utilization will be inadequate,'' he said.
United Kingdom customers will be served by a local customer support center, Hella said.
Two other Hella business units in Banbury are unaffected by the closure. They are Hella Ltd., an aftermarket sales and distribution company, and HBPO UK Ltd., a joint venture with Plastic Omnium and German auto air conditioning and engine cooling system company Behr GmbH. & Co. KG.