Plastic Omnium is to diversify into composite materials among other bodywork pieces building on the existing launch or construction of 11 new factories around the world this year.

The fuel tank specialist is launching its major expansion with four sites in China, three in Europe and one each in India, the US, Mexico and Russia, although the manufacturer is remaining coy on details of any new job creation.

"Effectively it is composites, for the moment we have no more information," a Plastic Omnium spokesman told just-auto from Paris. "We have not decided the places yet, no details about jobs."

Plastic Omnium has been ramping up its composites know-how for some time with the recruitment last year of 50 engineers in the field for its research and development centre near Lyon and news of the huge increase in factories will build on that investment.

The European sites already include the Bade-Wurtemberg factory in Germany for Daimler Truck tail-gates and the British plant at Hamshall which started last week.

Plastic Omnium's Spanish operation at Arevalo, producing tail-gates and floors for PSA's Vigo centre, will start production at the end of this year.

The increasing specialism in composites is in line with European aims to reducing weight in cars in a bid to lower C02 emissions. 

"Why we want to develop this speciality is lighter vehicles," said the Plastic Omnium spokesman, adding every 10kg less in weight meant a 1g reduction in C02. The aim is to strip 110kg from vehicles.

Plastic Omnium's news came hard on the heels of yesterday's 2011 results that showed revenue increasing by 30% to EUR4.2bn (US$5.6bn) and net profit totalling EUR171.4m.