TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan -- Faurecia, a giant in interior parts, is now setting its sights on exteriors.
The French supplier believes there is opportunity in bumper fascias, hoods and front-end modules in North America, says Mike Heneka, president of Faurecia North America.
"A couple of automakers are asking us to get in," Heneka said on the sidelines of the 2013 CAR Management Briefing Seminars here. "We spent the past two weeks in meetings with OEMs on it."
But Heneka is frank on Faurecia's outlook: Before expanding into exteriors, he wants firm, long-term commitments from customers.
"We're No. 1 in exteriors in Europe -- we're last in North American exteriors," Heneka says. "It's a very captive market here now, and the automakers would love for us to come in, be it Mexico or the United States."
Producing bumper fascias inside an auto plant, as companies such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda do, is challenging because they require ample space and clean, dust-free environments.
And it's an expensive business to get into, Heneka says, requiring an investment of about $30 million for one plant. It would take more than a single model cycle to pay off an investment.
Bumper fascias are also delicate and would need to be produced near the vehicle assembly line. And that would mean investing in individual plants for single customers in some cases.