Hyundai Mobis is not a typical automotive supplier. How many global Tier 1 suppliers own a professional basketball team? One. Hyundai Mobis owns the Mobis Phoebus.
"The objective is to give a friendly image to our customers," a Hyundai Mobis spokesman says of the team.
Hyundai Mobis bought the Korean Basketball League team about five years ago after changing its name from Hyundai Precision & Industry Co. and restructuring to focus on auto parts.
That restructuring has paid off.
From 2000 to 2004, the company's sales more than tripled, to $6.2 billion. As a result, Hyundai Mobis became Korea's largest parts company.
But Hyundai Mobis has a much bigger goal: become a global Top 10 supplier by 2010.
Some question whether the goal can be reached.
"There are challenges for them to reach their year 2010 visions," says Ahn Soo Woong, an auto industry analyst at Hanwha Securities Co. in Seoul.
The biggest challenge: Building annual revenues to about $15 billion in five years.
To reach that revenue, Hyundai Mobis is entering new markets and landing business from other automakers besides its two primary customers, Hyundai and Kia.
Hyundai Mobis has two plants in China and one in Alabama. It is building others in India and Slovakia to support Hyundai and Kia operations there.
The Korean supplier also is making inroads in the United States. It supplies steering columns to DaimlerChrysler AG and will assemble complete chassis modules for the new Jeep Wrangler in Toledo, Ohio.
Jeep will be Hyundai Mobis' biggest contract to supply a non-Korean automaker. The supplier says that contract will generate $151 million a year.
Hyundai Mobis also is seeking a steering-column contract for a General Motors unit in China.
"Mobis is now transforming into a global company," says Hyundai Mobis CEO Park Jeong In.
Because of Hyundai and Kia's growing overseas production, Mobis may meet its goal of generating
$5 billion in revenue overseas by 2010, Ahn says.
The question is whether the company also can meet the other part of its goal: generating $10 billion in revenue from domestic operations. Existing domestic operations don't appear to have enough growth potential to achieve that, Ahn says.
Nonetheless, Mobis is tackling that shortfall. For example, last month it bought a controlling 38 percent interest in brake and parts maker Korea Automotive Systems Co., known as Kasco.
And on July 20, Mobis announced a $192 million contract to supply brake systems for five new Hyundai and Kia models. The company will build a $49 million testing center.
To reach its 2010 goal, Park says, "We have to invest in people and develop new technology."
Hyundai Mobis relies heavily on foreign partners such as TRW Automotive Inc. for product technology, partly because of its youth as a parts company. To close that gap, Mobis is spending $150 million annually on technical innovation.
Says Park: "It's extremely important, especially at this beginning stage, to build Mobis' own technology."