TROY, MI – French supplier Valeo is growing in North America, with plans to hire 200 new engineers, including 160 in the Midwest, as the company focuses on technologies designed to reduce tailpipe emissions.
During a media event last week here at its North American headquarters, Valeo executives say the need is acute across the supplier’s four business units: Visibility, Comfort & Driver Assistance, Powertrain and Thermal systems.
Many major Tier 1 suppliers, such as Delphi, Visteon, Bosch, Lear, Johnson Controls and others, have or are exiting certain automotive sectors in an attempt to be lean and focus more intently on particular product segments.
Valeo completed some downsizing years ago, but today the supplier is in growth mode. When asked whether she sees a time when Valeo will need to hone its portfolio, Françoise Colpron, group president of Valeo North America, says no.
“Right now we feel very comfortable with the four business groups we have,” Colpron tells WardsAuto.
“For sure, some of them will know a more rapid growth,” particularly those units with solutions for smart and intuitive driving and reduced fuel consumption, such as the supplier’s new electric supercharger, LED headlamps and lightweight wiper module.
The new hires, she says, will allow Valeo to “increase our research-and-development presence here and better serve our North American customers on a global basis. We believe these people can help us be more American in America.”
Colpron says she expects many of the new engineers will be on the job by year’s end, and that much of the staffing is linked directly to new contracts.
Valeo is looking for expertise in electronics and software engineering and is hoping to find the talent in the Midwest – or in Silicon Valley, if necessary.
“We believe some of them are here,” she says. “But we are also open to look where the talent is.” Colpron declines to say where geographically the engineers will work, but the supplier has eight R&D centers in North America and 19 production sites in the region.
Valeo’s North American headcount has doubled to 11,500 employees since 2010. Sales in North America tripled to $2.6 billion (€1.9 billion) in 2013, she says.
By the end of this year, Valeo plans to open a new research center in Sunnyvale, CA, dedicated to driver-assistance systems. The supplier also recently opened a front-end thermal systems plant in Alliston, ON, Canada.
Global revenues were $16 billion (€12.1 billion) in 2013. North America represents 22% of Valeo’s worldwide sales.
Key products include electrical systems, climate control/engine cooling, lighting, wipers, interior controls and transmissions.