SEOUL -- Hyundai Mobis Co., an affiliated supplier of the Hyundai-Kia group, is targeting American and Japanese brands to expand business beyond its traditional Korean turf.
Mobis wants to increase its sales to General Motors, as well as score new business with Ford Motor Co. and Japanese automakers, particularly in North America, said Cho Jae-mok, director of its global parts business group, which targets customers beyond Hyundai-Kia.
Mobis aims to lift its North American sales to non-Hyundai-Kia customers by 50 percent over the next seven to eight years, he said.
South Korea’s biggest supplier wants sales to outside carmakers to account for around 30 percent of its global sales by 2025, from around 20 percent today, Cho said.
New factories coming online in Mexico, China and the Czech Republic should give Mobis added capacity to supply new manufacturers, Cho said in an interview this month at the supplier’s global headquarters here. Most of Mobis’ existing plants are dedicated to Hyundai Motor Co. or Kia Motors Corp., or are committed to making vehicle modules with little room for other output.
Mobis ranks No. 6 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global auto suppliers, with worldwide parts sales to automakers of $26.26 billion in fiscal 2015. Kia Motors holds a 17 percent stake in Mobis, while Mobis owns 21 percent of Hyundai Motor.
Like all global suppliers, Mobis is racing to expand beyond its traditional customer base in an increasingly competitive landscape where automakers are known to turn their backs on long-standing suppliers to buy from rivals with lower costs or broader global footprints.
Because it is a newer, less-established supplier than giants such as Germany’s Robert Bosch GmbH or Denso Corp. of Japan, Mobis wants to grow business in technologies where it thinks it has a better chance of winning uncommitted customers. Mobis sees potential in areas such as lighting, steering, multimedia and electronics, Cho said.
Mobis also hopes to get a foot in with emerging technologies where automakers haven’t lined up a preferred supplier. For Mobis that includes electric parking brakes.
“It’s tough for us to win business when it would require them to change a supplier,” Cho said. “It’s easier when they are starting with a new part.”
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the biggest customer outside of Hyundai and Kia, accounting for about 80 percent of its sales outside the group. Mobis has two plants in the Detroit and Toledo, Ohio, areas making chassis modules, or complete chassis component systems, for Jeep.
GM is the next biggest customer outside Hyundai-Kia, accounting for about 8 percent, followed by Mitsubishi Motors Corp. with about the same share. Smaller customers include Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries, Daimler AG and Mazda Motor Corp.
Last October, to support its American expansion, Mobis opened an r&d center in Plymouth, Mich.
With room for as many as 300 employees, Cho said, the Hyundai Mobis Technical Center of North America handles development, purchasing and sales.