TRW Automotive Inc.'s maquiladora operations in Mexico will double their annual sales in the next two years or so, according to the supplier's country director.
A maquila operation imports materials and equipment duty- and tariff-free and exports assembled products back to the originating country.
The Livonia, Mich.-based company saw sales out of Mexico plummet by 40 percent in the past year, forcing it to lay off 6,000 of 14,000 employees in the country and close one of three air-bag plants in Chihuahua, said Alberto de Icaza, director of Mexico sales.
But, he added that sales volumes have picked up after bottoming out in April and May.
Sales in Mexico this year should be about $60 million, he said in a recent interview. Taking into account the new business we have won, we should be at $140 million-plus by the end of 2011.
Out of the $140 million total, at least $35 million will come from TRW's two plastic molding facilities, which together employ about 300, de Icaza said.
One in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, produces close to 130 million molded pieces for seat belts per year.
A second, in Querétaro, Mexico, makes components for interiors, exteriors and underhood as well as engineered fasteners.
The interior items include cup holders, coat hooks, grab and door handles, air registers and interior lighting covers.
Among the underhood and exterior products are fluid reservoirs, belt and engine covers, mirror housing, oil plugs, oil dipstick pipes and air extractors.
De Icaza said TRW is about to complete a deal to provide air extractors, assembled in Mexico, to Volkswagen AG's sole vehicle assembly plant in North America, in Puebla, 75 miles southeast of Mexico City.
The deal is among the new business that he expects will boost TRW's sales considerably in Mexico over the next 30 months. Other new orders include the supply of hydraulic steering systems.
We have already won business for Volkswagen's [yet-to-be-completed] Chattanooga plant, said de Icaza, explaining that it includes air bags. We're talking [with Volkswagen] about additional business in Chattanooga, he said.
The fastening solutions assembled in Querétaro are for coat hooks, sun visors and grab handles, all of which are designed to avoid having to screw the components into place.
TRW Querétaro's injection molding presses have clamping forces that range from 40-550 tons. The machines include 10 Milacrons, nine Arburgs, three Demags, one Haitian, one JSW and one Van Dorn.
Volkswagen Puebla, which this summer named TRW as one of its top 14 suppliers, is key for TRW in Mexico, de Icaza said. Out of the 10 plants we have in Mexico, six of them supply Volkswagen.
Among the items the German company buys from the supplier are all the plastic-lined automotive steering wheels it uses in Puebla. Volkswagen produced a record 450,000 vehicles at the plant in 2008.
TRW Querétaro also supplies parts for Toyota's Tacoma pickup truck, assembled in Baja California, as well as for the Ford, GM, Chrysler, Nissan and Honda vehicles produced in Mexico.
Among other customers are heavy-duty-truck makers Kenworth, Freightliner, Volvo and Scania.
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