Spanish auto supplier Ficosa International SA is making big moves in North America, with contracts to make nearly 9 million mirror systems in the next five years, and new business coming to the U.S. and Mexico.
Two U.S. automakers awarded four multi-year contracts valued at $510 million to Ficosa for exterior mirror production in North America.
The projects ensure high-production volumes with strategic customers in the region, Joan Cañellas, CEO of the Ficosa North America Corp. business unit, said in a statement.
North America is now Ficosa's most important market after its home base in Europe, the firm said.
Ficosa North America employs about 1,700 and is recruiting to fill 240 positions such as project managers, technicians, engineers, operators and human resource specialists.
Ficosa withheld identity of the automakers awarding the new contracts, but the firm's key automotive customers have included Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Volkswagen.
Ficosa will handle three of the orders in a new advanced 270,000-square-foot plant under construction in Cookeville, Tenn. The fourth order goes to a facility in Salinas Victoria in the Mexican state of Nuevo León.
The Cookeville location is getting new injection molding, painting and assembly capabilities, should be operational by October and, for the new contracts, will manufacture 1.7 million units annually beginning in the first quarter of 2018. Eventually, Cookeville will replace a Crossville, Tenn., plant, an early site that Ficosa previously purchased and now operates about 30 miles to the east.
The volume in Mexico is projected at 80,000 rear view mirrors per year with production starting in 2018's fourth quarter.
Typical polymers that Ficosa uses in manufacturing rear-view mirrors include engineered nylons, acrylonitrile styrene acrylate, ABS and polypropylene.
Other North American operations for Ficosa include a development center in Detroit; a production site in Shelbyville, Ky.; and a plant in Escobedo, also in Mexico's State of Nuevo León.
Ficosa's line includes exterior and interior rear-view mirrors, external mirrors with light signals, integrated antennas and truck rear-view mirrors.
Barcelona, Spain-based Ficosa employs more than 9.700, has operations in 16 countries and reported 2014 sales of $1.15 million. Ficosa's competitors include Magna International Inc. of Aurora, Ontario; Delphi Automotive Systems LLC of Troy, Mich.; and Valeo SA of Paris.