FRENCH MOLDER Sommer Allibert SA is strengthening its automotive operations in North America with a series of major expansions.
The company's SAI Automotive AG arm plans a $25 million development of its molding plant in South Carolina to support new automotive contracts.
SAI, based in Frankfurt, has also recently moved its plastic-bumper injection-molding business from Kansas to join its painting operation in Missouri.
And the company's plant in Puebla, Mexico, is now up and running at full capacity. The plant makes instrument panels, door panels and center consoles for Volkswagen's New Beetle.
Sommer Allibert, which has more than 30 plants in Europe, has gradually gained business with Ford, GM and Chrysler in North America.
It has also benefited from European automakers setting up in the country.
'We are working on an expansion program in North America,' said Jean-Michel Vallin, chief operating officer for SAI's North American operations. 'It will start as we expand our engineering and design expertise in door modules, interiors and full (instrument panel) cockpits. We want to use our expertise in Europe to service automakers here.'
The company's South Carolina plant molds plastic interior parts for BMW's new X5 sport-utility, built in Spartanburg. It will begin making interior panels for BMW's 3 and 5 series next year.