Silao, Mexico — Tier 1 auto industry supplier Mecaplast Group is building a $10 million injection molding facility in north-central Mexico to make air intake systems for General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Captiva in North America.
The Monaco-headquartered company, which has another plant in Puebla, 300 miles to the southeast, has already started making the same systems for GM at one of its four plants in China.
“It's a global project,” Philippe Vayssettes, Mecaplast's America business unit director, said at a foundation-laying ceremony at the plant site in Silao on Dec. 2.
The 59,200-square-foot factory is in the Guanajuato Inland Port industrial complex, which includes four industrial parks and is one of the best appointed industrial zones in Mexico.
The $10 million invested so far “includes everything,” from the purchase of the four-acre plot of land, construction costs and the acquisition of five new KraussMaffei injection presses that range in clamping force from 300-800 tons, Vayssettes said.
Construction started in September and is scheduled to be completed in June, when production trials will start with 50 technicians. “The official start of production will be January 2017,” Vayssettes said.
The plant will mold air intake systems for 450,000 GM vehicles a year. By sometime in 2019 Mecaplast will have added 10 more presses and the number of employees will rise to 150. Mecaplast's sales target for the facility is $37 million by 2019. By comparison, the Puebla plant generates $45 million in annual sales.
According to Vayssettes, who has directed Mecaplast's operations in Mexico for nine years, the company plans to increase the size of the new facility to 96,900 square feet eventually, and he envisages Silao matching the Puebla operation's 350 employees at some stage.
GM “is the main project” for the new plant. “But later on we will be making cam covers for Nissan USA also,” he said.
“We chose Silao because of its location,” he said. “It's at the center of the Mexican automotive industry right now.”
Volkswagen AG, he pointed out, has an engine plant in the same Inland Port zone, while GM has vehicle assembly plants in Silao and San Luis Potosí, 100 miles to the northeast, where BMW AG is building an assembly plant. “We're proposing projects to all of them.”
Other companies with assembly plants in the region or building them include Mazda Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.
“This plant will be mainly dedicated to engine parts at first but we will in the future make body parts, depending on the market,” Vayssettes said.
Mecaplast employs 6,000 in 16 countries. It has 26 manufacturing plants and annual sales of $718.3 million.
According to Vayssettes, Mecaplast is building a plant in Zavar, Slovakia. It also has plans to build two new facilities, one in Europe and another “close to Europe.”
The Puebla plant, which Mecaplast acquired in 2002, has just won a contract to make interior parts for the VW Jetta sedan and Tiguan compact SUV, both of which are assembled in Puebla, he said.