Kia Motors and primary supplier Mobis Slovakia are still negotiating with potential partsmakers to the E1 billion Kia-Mobis assembly plant under construction here.
“It is more of a mating dance right now,” said Mobis Slovakia’s legal representative Robert Vydra. “It is not clear if we will have a first date or never see each other again. Everything is in the early stages.”
Some supplier selections will be announced by early summer, said Kia spokesman Dusan Dvorak. Both Kia and Mobis have purchasing and procurement offices in Zilina.
But a few deals are already set, say supplier sources. US-based supplier ArvinMeritor will supply door modules. US-based Lear Automotive will provide the factory with seats. Both Vydra and Dvorak declined to comment about ArvinMeritor and Lear.
Lear and ArvinMeritor already produce similar products in the region. ArvinMeritor makes door modules in Liberec, Czech Republic, Posnan, Poland. Lear supplies seats to the PSA/Peugeot/Citroen-Toyota factory from the TPCA supplier park in Kolin, Czech Republic.
Kia and Mobis, which is 18.3 percent owned by the Korean automaker, have previously said they would bring in about 10 Korean suppliers to Slovakia. They also expect to form partnerships with other suppliers in the region. Kia representatives have already visited Czech offices of Robert Bosch.
Kia and Mobis are on a tight deadline. Kia is scheduled to complete construction this autumn of the E830 million assembly plant 15km southeast of Zilina in mountainous northern Slovakia. Pilot production is supposed to start in June 2006.
Mobis Slovakia’s timetable is the same for its E175 million module assembly site adjacent to the plant.
The Kia factory will have an initial capacity of 200,000 highly modular cars a year to be increased later to 300,000 cars. Kia calculates the module ratio at 42 percent of value.
Mobis is key to Kia’s modular strategy. Mobis will supply eight sequenced modules to the assembly line: the cockpit, front chassis, airbag, audio and visual, bumpers, front-end, steering column, and rear chassis modules.
Three wall clocks in the Mobis director’s office reflect the company strategy. The clocks tell the time in Seoul, Zilina, and the eastern US. Mobis followed Kia parent Hyundai to the US in 2003 with a $30 million (E22.6 million) plant there.