Magneti Marelli said it will add a shock absorber factory in Morocco, a move that helps the North African country further build up a supplier base to support a growing network of vehicle assembly plants.
Marelli, which is a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is the second Italian supplier to announce expansion plans in Morocco. Sogefi said earlier this year that it will build a plant to produce engine filtration systems.
Both factories will be in the Tangier free trade zone. Marelli's 37-million-euro, 20,000-square-meter factory is schedule to start production in 2019. Sogefi's 10-million-euro 10,000-square-meter factory is expect to begin output next year.
Both suppliers, who are building their first factories in the country, said that their plants are likely to be expanded in the coming years to keep pace with an expected increase in orders from customers outside and inside Morocco, where local officials hope to announce the name of a third global automaker to build an assembly plant there before the end of next year.
In addition, the country is working to recruit a fourth major automaker plant before the end of 2021. A fourth project would help the country reach its stated goal of having the capacity to build 1 million vehicles a year by 2025.
The new players would join Renault, which has two factories in Morocco, and PSA Group, which will begin building cars near the coastal city of Kenitra in 2019.
Officials in Morocco know that to support those plants it needs a stronger supply base. Right now, 40 percent of the parts used to build vehicles in Morocco are locally made. The goal is to boost that level to 60 to 65 percent by 2020 by adding local output of electrical, steering and lighting systems, transmission parts, safety equipment, wheels and paint.
“In the last 12 months, we have taken big steps to attract new global players that will add key technologies,” Khalid Qalam, senior adviser with Invest in Morocco, told Automotive News Europe earlier this year.
He decline to reveal the names of any of the companies, but industry sources say that some of the other suppliers considering plants in Morocco include JTEKT (steering systems), Nexteer Automotive (transmission parts and steering systems) and Varroc Lighting Systems.
They would join companies such as Delphi, which makes advanced wiring systems and high-precision connection systems, and Denso, which manufactures air conditioning systems and instrument panels. Other global suppliers with operations in Morocco include glassmaker Saint-Gobain, seat maker Lear, wiring harness maker Leoni, interiors and exhaust system provider Faurecia and thermal energy management and electronics specialist Visteon.
Magneti Marelli CEO Pietro Gorlier said in a statement that the move into Morocco “represents an opportunity to further expand its business, responding to the demands and needs of a number of key clients that are making important investments in the area.”
Also in statement, Sogefi's CEO Laurent Hebenstreit said: “This investment further strengthens the competitiveness of Sogefi's manufacturing base and provides support for profitable growth in Morocco and in Europe.”