Pitesti, Romania -- Ford of Europe is turning to suppliers for help so it can start production at the former Daewoo Motor plant in Romania on schedule.
Ford needs to quickly build up a local supply base for the plant, in Craiova, southwest Romania.
The automaker aims to start production of a small car at the plant late this year and, as part of its deal with the Romanian government, has pledged to be producing 300 000 units a year there with 60 percent local content by late 2011.
Ford agreed in September to pay €57 million to acquire the government's 72.4 percent stake in the plant. It also committed to spend another €675 million to upgrade it. But the deal has been on hold while the European Commission reviews it for possible competition violations, including employment guarantees and Ford's demands for protection against previous Daewoo debts.
Although it is shut out of the plant pending completion of the review, supplier sources say Ford has begun sharing plans and specifications with them in a bid to jump-start production when clearance comes.
" We know their basic plans for Craiova," said Stefan KrÃ¶nung, vice president of Autoliv's Ford global business unit.
He said supplying Ford in Craiova would be a logical step for Autoliv, which already is one of the US automaker's preferred global suppliers.
" We already supply Ford [elsewhere] from our production sites in Romania," said KrÃ¶nung. " And we already have most of our product lineup in Romania."
Already in Romania
Besides Autoliv, many of Ford's 57 preferred suppliers already are in Romania. They include Continental, Pirelli, Delphi, Dura Automotive, Johnson Controls, Lear, Tenneco and TRW Automotive.
Suppliers that earlier set up plants in Romania to supply parts for the Dacia Logan also are hoping they can win new business with Ford.
" We are Dacia focused, but there is some likelihood we would work with Ford," said Edwin Zachari, general manager for Johnson Controls Romania.
Johnson Controls has four production sites in the country employing 1,900 people. In addition to supplying seats to Dacia, Johnson Controls supplies Ford plants in Germany and Belgium from Romania.
A Ford spokesman confirmed that the company has held " initial discussions" with suppliers in Romania, but declined to elaborate.
From Automotive news Europ (A Crain publication)