Visteon Corp. (Van Buren Township, MI) has opened a 2500m2 (27,000-ft2) injection molding facility in Kaluga, Russia for the fabrication of panels and other interior components as part of a new contract to supply Volkswagen's Polo. Visteon spokesman Jim Fisher told PlasticsToday that the plant will initially run at least six injection molding machines, in addition to robotics and ultrasonic welding equipment, with room to expand. Visteon plans to achieve full production capacity in the first quarter of 2011. Visteon broke ground on the greenfield facility, which is 112 miles south of Moscow, in late 2009, which at this point has 35 employees, but once it reaches full capacity, it is forecast to have a total staff of around 65.
Pierre Boulet, Visteon's general manager for Europe and South America, said that beyond serving Volkswagen, the new facility will provides a platform for Visteon to "expand our relationships with the increasing number of global vehicle manufacturers in the region." Visteon already supplies interior, climate, electronics, and lighting components to global vehicle manufacturers' Russian locations. It recently formed a joint venture, OOO Visteon Avtopribor Electronics, to supply cockpit electronics products to vehicle manufacturers in Russia. That venture was announced in August and is based in Vladimir, approximately 170 km (105 miles) east of Moscow. It will supply leading Russian vehicle manufacturers including AVTOVAZ, GAZ, and Sollers, as well as Ford.
Commenting on the future potential of the Russian market, Fisher noted the country's size compared to its current level of car ownership. "Russia has a very large population with a relatively low vehicle density," Fisher said, adding that the country is seen as offering significant potential for vehicle manufacturers. "[Visteon] wants to ensure that we are well-positioned for that growth. We see considerable opportunities for Visteon with both domestic and global automakers in Russia."
Visteon's European corporate office is located in Chelmsford, UK. Overall the company's European operations, which include Russia, features 24 manufacturing facilities, including South Africa, with approximately 15,000 employees. In addition to the JV and the new Kaluga site, Visteon also operates a representative office in St. Petersburg. —Tony Deligio