Lear Corp.'s (Southfield, MI) Electrical Power Management Systems business has opened a 14,340 square-meter facility in Rabat, Morocco to supply European automakers including BMW, Renault, and Volkswagen. At this time, the facility has 130 employees but has plans to employ approximately 230 by the end of 2011.
The company says the plant's location enables easy shipment to Europe, reducing travel time and costs, while increasing flexibility and allowing for quicker response to customer preferences. Globally, Lear employs 92,500 people at 200 facilities in 35 countries. The bulk of its business is in the seating segment, with only 30 of those 200 sites strictly serving the automotive electrical/electronic segment.
Lear has an existing site in Morocco, located in Tangier, with that plant serving its seating and electrical businesses. Elsewhere in Africa it has an electrical facility in Bir El Bey, Tunisia, as well as three seating sites in South Africa.
On April 29, Lear reported that its first-quarter 2011 sales were up 20% over the first quarter of 2010, rising to $3.5 billion. The company's core operating earnings were up 48% to $205 million, marking the seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year improvement. In a presentation to analysts, Lear said industry production was up 5%, with increases in all its major markets except Japan, where the destruction of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami reduced vehicle production by 32%.
First quarter sales were up by double digits in all regions, including Europe (21%), North America (22%), Asia (12%), and the rest of the world (13%). For the full year of 2011, Lear is forecasting that vehicle production will be down 1% in Europe, up 5% in North America, and down 21% in Japan. In the BRIC countries, it sees production rising 7% in China, 2% in Brazil, 17% in India, and 14% in Russia. Electrical power management systems generated $44.1 million in first-quarter 2011 earnings compared to $208.5 million for seating.