By Liz White, UT editor
Stockholm--As part of a cost-reduction strategy, Swedish automotive safety systems producer Autoliv Inc. is expanding in Turkey. It has recently opened two new facilities there, one of which will make polyurethane-covered steering wheels.
In a 10 Sept statement, Stockholm-headquartered Autoliv said the first plant will have the capacity to produce a million steering wheels a year at full operation. This corresponds to about a fifth of Autoliv's existing European steering-wheel capacity, the group commented.
This 4000-sq.m plant at the Taysad Industrial Zone in Gebze, outside Istanbul, will make both polyurethane-foam-covered and leather-wrapped steering wheels, the statement said.
Currently, Autoliv Turkey produces polyurethane-covered steering wheels in its assembly plant for airbags and seatbelts. The company commented that the move to a new location, means that "steering wheel production will be expanded and improved."
At the same time, "manufacturing space in the existing plant will be released for Autoliv's increasing airbag and seatbelt sales," the statement continued.
The second plant, on the same site, will have 2400 sq.m of space for assembly of rewinding spring cassettes for seatbelt retractors. Annual capacity will eventually exceed 30 million cassettes at full production, corresponding to nearly 10 percent of the industry's current global capacity, Autoliv said.
At present, Autoliv said, it has more than 1000 of its total 40 000 employees in Turkey, compared to fewer than 250 in 2000. "Sales have grown from $10 million in 2000 to exceed $200 million this year, of which 60 percent is export mostly to other Autoliv companies," the statement said.
Autoliv Turkey's main OEM customers are Toyota, Renault, Ford, Tofas-Fiat and Hyundai/Kia.
Autoliv, with $6250 million turnover in 2005, pioneered both seatbelts and airbags, and claims to be a technology leader, with the widest product offering for automotive safety. The company supplies all the leading automobile manufacturers in the world, from 80 subsidiaries and joint ventures in more than 30 countries, the Autoliv statement added.