Brembo S. p. A., one of the world’s leading suppliers in performance brakes, is gearing up for significant growth in the North American market, which will likely include closer ties with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Marchionne spoke yesterday at the grand opening of the Italian company’s newly expanded brake plant in Homer, Michigan, stressing a vision of shared growth between Brembo and FCA. Brembo has supplied brake components to Chrysler for over 40 years, and Brembo’s increased presence in North America should meet Marchionne’s needs as Maserati expands and Alfa Romeo is overhauled to re-enter the marketplace.
““[FCA’s] recent strategic refocus on the premium segments, through Alfa Romeo and Maserati, will strengthen our relationship [with Brembo] even further and open up new exciting opportunities,” said Marchionne. He later said that “Alfa Romeo will be our hardest target, but we’re bent on doing it.”
Considering FCA’s push for the Alfa Romeo brand to have all-Italian design and performance chops challenging the Germans, it’s easy to see Brembo having a significant role to play in Alfa's future. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder also spoke at the event, voicing support for the industry's growth.
Brembo invested $115 million to expand its Homer plant, which manufactures brake discs, calipers, and corner modules. By the end of 2014, Brembo hopes for North America to become its largest market, as annual production capacity expands to 12.5 million discs and 400,000 calipers, up from 10 million discs and 300,000 calipers in 2013.
About 110 workers were employed at the plant after it was acquired in 2007, yet the staff now totals 450, working 3 shifts per day. With close to 200 employees added in the last few months alone, more hires are likely on the way.
“This expanded and modernized production facility represents a new foundation for Brembo in North America, enabling us to increase our presence in the U.S. market and offer better service to our clients,” said Brembo chairman Alberto Bombassei. He attributes Brembo’s rapid growth to the U.S. market’s recent “improvement in technical quality and content,” as well as technology.
The Homer facility currently produces high-end components for performance vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac CTS-V. Brembo's lightweight carbon ceramic brakes will continue to be built in Italy for the foreseeable future, and there are already discussions about increasing capacity there.