Global auto parts molder Samvardhana Motherson Reflectec is spending $40 million on a plant expansion in Michigan that will nearly double its North American capacity for rearview mirrors.
The project is part of a global expansion of its mirrors business that also includes a new plant in China.
SMR, which is part of New Delhi-based Motherson Sumi Systems Ltd., claims a 22 percent share of the global market for exterior car mirrors.
The plant in Marysville, Mich., which will have its opening ceremony Jan. 21, includes new painting lines and molding machines, along with additional warehouse space nearby in the nearby city of Port Huron, the company said.
The Marysville facility currently has 54 injection molding machines in the 450 ton range, and will be growing to about 86 machines over the next two years as new business comes in, said Sai Tatineni, managing director of SMR USA, in Marysville. It will expand employment by 350 in Marysville, SMR said.
He said the operation is now benefitting from increased demand in the auto market, and the closing down of other supplier plants after the 2009 downturn.
“If you go back to the 2009 timeframe, the market was turning down,” he said. “A lot of plants just shut down. We were one of the few that survived that downturn and that's probably why we are getting more business.”
SMR is making other investments globally, including a new mirror manufacturing plant in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing. That plant will open in the first half of the year.
In 2013, it opened a mirror molding facility outside Beijing, to cater to increased demand in north China. Globally, the company says it makes 30 million exterior mirrors annually.
Motherson executives told India's Economic Times newspaper Jan. 14 that Motherson Sumi is looking at setting up more plants in the United States, and is focusing on the United States, China and India.
The company is expanding the Marysville plant partly at the request of German automakers in the U.S., the paper said. According to company presentations to investors, 46 percent of Motherson Sumi's global sales come from Audi, VW and BMW.
SMR's parent has been growing in recent years. In 2009 Motherson Sumi acquired bankrupt Portchester, England-based Visiocorp plc and its 17 factories globally, which later became the SMR unit, and in 2011 it bought a majority stake in German automotive molder Peguform GmbH and its 16 factories worldwide.
Motherson Sumi told investors in January that it's currently building a factory to make natural fiber plastic door panels in Boetzingen, Germany, as well as a bumper manufacturing plant in Schierling, Germany.
Additionally, it said it is building several plastic processing plants in Asia, including one in Beijing for making door panels and two in India for making other plastic products.
Motherson Sumi says it has over $5 billion in global sales, with more than 1,100 molding machines and 135 factories in 25 countries. It's one of Europe's largest makers of instrument panel modules, door trim and bumpers and one of India's biggest manufacturers of molded components for the auto industry.
SMR, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany, has 8,000 employees and 25 factories worldwide.