LONDON - Component makers are already preparing their bids to supply Toyota's small-car plant at Valenciennes, France, that will start production in 2001.
Although Toyota says no purchasing decisions have yet been taken, parts makers with existing contracts from Toyota's Burnaston, UK, factory believe they have an advantage. Burnaston has 176 suppliers.
NSK, which recently won an Outstanding Performance Award for quality from Toyota in the UK, hopes its recently acquired bearings plant in Kielce, Poland, will secure a contract. NSK plans to double the capacity of the FLT/Iskra plant.
Stefan Williams, NSK's UK automotive sales manager, said the company would bid to supply wheel bearings and electric power steering for the new car.
In addition to being a valued Toyota supplier the firm has another key advantage.
'The drawings which were issued with the enquiry forms were our own drawings,' said Williams. 'The basic engineering for this vehicle has been done in Japan in cooperation with NSK. That probably does give us an advantage, but the European competition for this work is very, very strong.'
Pilkington Automotive received Toyota's Outstanding Performance Award for cost management.
'We hope will be in the running for work from Valenciennes,' said Martin Whittaker, Pilkington's Toyota account manager. 'Toyota has a 'think global, act local' approach to its business, and being a world-class supplier is just the starting point.
'It is very difficult to become accepted as a Toyota supplier, but once you are there they will work with you to ensure you remain there. Everything hinges on quality, cost management and delivery.'
Gurit-Essex of Nuneaton, UK, supplies glass-bonding adhesives to the Burnaston plant.
Wayne Brown, the firm's key account manager for Toyota Europe, said a presentation was planned this spring to demonstrate a number of materials, including adhesives already used in the paint and body shops of other vehicle manufacturers.