DETROIT -- In an effort to attract new business and better serve U.S. clients, French engineering and r&d consulting firm Altran Technologies opened a passive-safety center in the suburbs here.
A ribbon-cutting event was held Wednesday to celebrate the facility in Wixom, Mich. -- the company's first passive-safety center in the U.S.The center will perform passive-safety tests including pedestrian protection tests, free-motion head form tests and airbag tests. It will provide engineering services to address automotive industry test standards and develop tests to ensure compliance. Engineers also will perform test drives on a secured track.
Altran potentially could expand to the West Coast to "take into account the Silicon Valley and the growth of EVs and next-generation cars," Robert Vatter, CEO of Altran North America, told Automotive News.
Vatter said the company plans to use the center, which cost $3 million to build, as a "real entry point to the U.S. auto market given the number of things that are going on ... from a technology, regulatory and growth perspective."
The automotive industry accounts for about 20 percent of the company's revenue, according to Vatter. Among Altran's clients are Honda Motor Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Altran also works with aerospace, defense, energy, finance, life sciences, railway and telecommunication companies. It has more than 30,000 employees in more than 20 countries.
"In the U.S. right now, we're roughly $230 million in revenue -- of which auto is a component," said Vatter. "We want to build that up given our huge presence in Europe with PSA and FCA, and also our capabilities specifically in the space of passive safety, which is why we're here today."
The center will handle full tests on four to five new models a year.
"That's our initial objective, but we also have other services that we're layering on top, which include engineering, meshing those type of things that'll lead up to broader capability around passive safety and active safety," said Vatter.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the company conducted a tour of the facility.
"What we're trying to do is obviously attract business," said Keith Williams, chief technology officer. "But also to recruit specialized high-valued jobs into the area, particularly around the simulation and engineering space."