DETROIT -- Globally, Italian auto supplier Magneti Marelli is a powerhouse, with nearly $4 billion in annual sales.
Its North American unit is a small part of it, responsible for less than 7 percent of the firm's production and serving a few niche business areas.
But the company wants to boost both its production and profile in the region, with plans to expand its injection molding capabilities.
"We want to put our plans here on fast-forward," Philip Fioravante said here in an interview.
Fioravante is president and CEO of Magneti Marelli Powertrain USA, one of the Milan, Italy-based company's three North American units.
Business with automakers
The North American powertrain unit does about 40 percent of its business directly with automakers, including the Chrysler group, General Motors, BMW and Volkswagen.
Another 40 percent of the business goes into motor sports, with parts going to motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson and boat engine manufacturer Mercury Marine.
The remaining business is geared to the aftermarket performance-sports industry.
Magneti Marelli Powertrain has operated in the US since the 1970s, and has had in-house injection molding for throttle bodies in Sanford, North Carolina, for about four years.
In the next three to five years, Fioravante aims to increase its overall US sales to $200 million, from $120 million.
Magneti Marelli's US holding company also includes an automotive lighting business and another specializing in suspensions and shock absorbers.
A move to Detroit
The firm moved its headquarters from North Carolina to the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills, Michigan, this year to improve its visibility with North American automakers.
It also is in discussion with Asian automakers that make cars in the US.
Fioravante said the company wants to sell more of its core products in the US and develop in-house production of electronic throttle controls and air-intake manifolds -- parts made by Magneti Marelli in Europe.
Those systems will require the boost in injection molding capabilities, he said.
Magneti Marelli's competitors include Denso, Visteon, Robert Bosch, Siemens VDO Automotive and Delphi.
Said Fioravante: "We can't match their size, so we are focused on more niche products."