GENK, Belgium - The development of a $300 million supplier park in Belgium will help Ford cut costs for its redesigned European-made Mondeo.
The new Mondeo is due to go on sale in Europe in October 2000. The first new supplier facilities at Genk are expected to be ready as early as January 1999.
Genk, which makes about 360,000 Mondeos a year for Europe and Asia, has capacity to build a further 65,000. The plant also makes about 75,000 commercial trucks a year.
With the building of a 808,000-square-meter supplier park next door, Ford expects to move out some in-house component work and reduce labor costs.
About 2,800 of the 11,130 jobs at the Genk plant are likely to be lost as a result of the outsourcing move.
Ford hopes the Genk plant can add as much as 12 percent more content to the next-generation Mondeo without increasing the price, said Alfons Smets, Ford finance controller at Genk.
Genk produces about 300 parts in-house for the current Mondeo. That includes US- and UK-made Ford engines that must be
prepared at Genk for final installation.
Genk is Ford's only European plant that produces its own seats, Smets said.
Lear Corp. will take over Mondeo seat production and Magna International Inc. will supply seats for the commercial vehicles once the shift is made.
Textron Automotive Co., which is already responsible for most of the Mondeo's instrument panel, will supply the new model's
complete cockpit, including the steering system.
Smets said Ford's in-house parts producer Visteon had not so far competed for any of the new outsourced Genk business.
Much of the supplier park infrastructure is being paid for by government agencies, including a $60-million automated conveyor system.
Hugo Maris, manager for industrial areas for Fabrimetal, the Belgian contractor on the project, said the conveyor will carry parts in sequence out of the supplier plants and on to the Ford assembly line as needed.
Like many other European auto plants, Genk has made big strides in productivity.
In 1990, Genk produced 31 vehicles per worker. Last year, the figure rose to 40 vehicles per worker.