Faurecia, the world's sixth-largest automotive supplier, began operations in Saline Friday, after its acquisition of the interior trim components business from Automotive Components Holdings, LLC, according to a press release issued Friday.
The plant supplies cockpits, instrument panels, door panels and center consoles for 12 vehicle programs assembled at eight Ford plants throughout North America.
Faurecia will celebrate the dedication of the Saline business with a flag-raising ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m., July 17 in front of the plant at 7700 Michigan Ave. in Saline, with employees and invited guests, according to the release.
Faurecia also announced that it is establishing a Faurecia Interior Systems customer center in Southfield, which will house more than 200 employees, including more than 50 new professional jobs in 2012. The center will be located in the Travelers Tower I, 26555 Evergreen Rd., near Interstate 696 in Southfield. It will be dedicated to engineering, product development, program management, sales and marketing in support of Ford Motor Company. The Southfield team will include Ford Customer Business Unit personnel from Faurecia Interior Systems' Auburn Hills Tech Center and staff formerly with ACH. A significant number of positions at the Southfield Customer Center, however, will be new jobs filled by candidates from within southeast Michigan. The operation will occupy approximately 50,000 square feet on the 17th and 18th floors of the building.
"The Southfield Customer Center will allow us to bring the former ACH personnel associated with Saline's operations together with those from Faurecia to work as a closely knit team in support of this transformation and future growth," said Faurecia Interior Systems North America President Jean-Michel Renaudie. "We are pleased to be able to retain the skills and knowledge of the ACH personnel who are joining Faurecia, to bring more jobs to the region and to reassert Faurecia's commitment to southeast Michigan."
Under Faurecia ownership, Saline will become a technology plant that focuses on such core technologies as injection molding, skin manufacturing and foaming operations for interior systems. Current programs at Saline include the Ford F-150, Expedition, Explorer, Focus, Mustang, Taurus, and Lincoln Navigator and MKS.
The Saline plant, which employed as many as 2,300 people last year, is expected to employ about 1,100 once the transition is complete. The UAW Local 892, which is moving its office from Saline, will continue to represent the assembly workers.
Currently, the Saline plant does $1.1 billion of sales annually. Faurecia says that number will fall to $400 million. Much of the business is being moved to a joint venture between Faurecia and Rush Group Ltd. The cockpit interiors for the Ford Mustang and Expedition and Lincoln Navigator will be the first two programs manufactured and assembled by Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS), located in Detroit's Gateway Industrial center near the Southfield Freeway and Interstate 96. Operations will begin transferring from Saline to DMS this summer.
DMS is being supported by tax credits granted by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
"Faurecia has proved itself to be an important creator of jobs and technology for the automotive industry in southeast Michigan, expanding and retaining jobs in Saline, Detroit and Southfield," said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. "By modernizing infrastructure in Saline, jointly creating a new assembly plant for the city of Detroit and creating a customer center in Southfield, Faurecia has helped establish a track on which Michigan's auto industry can accelerate its rapid evolution and ever-growing efficiency."
Reconfiguration and upgrading of the Saline plant will be completed over the next few years, according to the release. The operation will feature a smooth progression of components from fabrication to assembly to sequencing and serve as a core for potential future growth, according to Faurecia.
Faurecia expects to invest in the Saline business for capital improvements, manufacturing, materials and employee programs to drive manufacturing excellence. The company will implement new policies designed to focus on employee involvement; to train employees in lean manufacturing; and to improve production quality through the Faurecia Excellence System, a proven approach promoting continuous progress that capitalizes on the best practices from inside and outside the company.
Faurecia is leasing the plant from ACH. Faurecia officials plan to use about 50 percent of the exisiting 1.6 million-square-foot facility once reconfiguration of operations are complete.