PARIS – Plastic Omnium in 2011 earned a 7% operating margin on record sales of E4.2 billion ($5.5 billion), 30% more than 2010.

Some of the increased revenues resulted from acquisitions such as the purchase of Ford’s Michigan-based fuel-tank facility in June, but existing operations grew 16%.

CEO Laurent Burrell tells journalists the company’s investments in globalization and technology are paying off, as emerging markets develop and governments around the world tighten rules for fuel consumption and pollution.

Plastic Omnium’s fuel-tank division Inergy and its automotive exterior division, which produces bumpers and other plastic parts, are outperforming the market, he says.

The company is developing 120 contracts, 10 for composite tailgates and 11 for diesel fuel tanks, including selective-catalytic-reduction tanks to keep oxides-of-nitrogen emissions within future norms. Some of those tanks are thought to be part of a 6-year, E500 million ($656 million) order from Audi.

Plastic Omnium is providing parts for 59 cars launching this year, including General Motors’ Buick Encore in North America and Opel Mokka in Europe; the Peugeot 208 in Europe; and BMW 3-Series in South America and Asia. That compares with use of the supplier’s components in about 40 launches in recent years, Burrell notes.

The company invested this year in a new technical center near Lyon, France, to develop carbon-fiber composites that can reduce vehicle weight. Engineers already have won their first contract for a chassis part, he says, adding Plastic Omnium in 2012 will buy land outside Paris for a tech center that will develop future fuel tanks.

Cash flow in 2011 was E153 million ($201 million), and the supplier intends to maintain cash flow sufficient “to be free in our strategy and decisions,” says Jean-Michel Szczerba, executive vice president.

Last year, Plastic Omnium revenues grew 17% in North America, where production increased 10%. Europe saw 12% revenue growth with 5% higher output, and although production in Asia was almost flat, revenues jumped 23%.

Burrell predicts the company will outperform the markets again this year.