"We're No. 1 in exteriors in Europe -- we're last in North American exteriors," Heneka says. "It's a very captive market here now, and the automakers would love for us to come in, be it Mexico or the United States."
Producing bumper fascias inside an auto plant, as companies such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda do, is challenging because they require ample space and clean, dust-free environments.
And it's an expensive business to get into, Heneka says, requiring an investment of about $30 million for one plant. It would take more than a single model cycle to pay off an investment.
Bumper fascias are also delicate and would need to be produced near the vehicle assembly line. And that would mean investing in individual plants for single customers in some cases.
"One-customer facilities are always risky," the executive says. "But the auto companies recognize all this, and we're discussing how we could do it."
At the same time, Faurecia has invested in manufacturing of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, and Heneka believes its U.S. customers will now ask for more carbon-fiber body panels as part of their lightweighting challenge.
The supplier additionally envisions expanding into more front-end module production. It is active in that segment in Europe, but barely so in North American yet, Heneka says.
The company last year added $1.3 billion in North American sales, primarily from interiors. Heneka forecasts North American sales of $7 billion in 2016.
Faurecia ranks No. 7 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide sales to automakers of $22.5 billion in 2012. In North America, the supplier posted $6.1 billion in sales to automakers in 2012, according to the Automotive News data center.