French vehicle interior specialist Faurecia is eyeing to expand into exteriors in North America. According to Mike Heneka, president of Faurecia North America, the supplier sees an opportunity in bumper fascias, hoods and front-end modules in North America. Heneka remarked during the 2013 CAR Management Briefing Seminars that a number of carmakers are asking Faurecia to expand into supplying exterior parts, adding they spent the past two weeks in meetings with OEMs over the matter.
Heneka, however, wants firm long-term commitments from customers before expanding into exteriors. He said that while Faurecia is No. 1 in exteriors in Europe, the supplier is last in North America. He said that carmakers would love for Faurecia to come in either in Mexico or the United States.
According to Heneka, producing bumper fascias inside an auto plant is very challenging since it ample space and clean, dust-free environments. Heneka noted that such production will require an investment of around $30 million just for one plant, adding that it would take more than a single model cycle to return the investment.
Likewise, bumper fascias are delicate and should be produced near the vehicle assembly line, which means that in some instances, Faurecia has to invest in individual plants for single customers. Heneka remarked that carmakers recognize the fact that “one-customer facilities are always risky," adding that they are holding talks on how they could do it."
Faurecia has also made investments in manufacturing of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. According to Heneka, the supplier’s customers in the US will ask for more carbon-fiber body panels as part of their bid to cut vehicle weight. The supplier also expects more front-end module production, in which Faurecia is not so active in North America, according to Heneka. [source: automotive news - sub. required]