Issue: Apr 2003


Supply and Demand



by Automotive Industries staff

North America

MACSTEEL Announces Expansion
MACSTEEL begins an expansion phase designed specifically to further enhance its capacity and production efficiencies. This expansion is supported by a $9.9 million investment aimed at making MACSTEEL’s total shipping capacity reach a level of 740,000 tons a year — which would represent an increase of 20,000 tons. Some of the new equipment being brought over in the expansion will aid the rolling, handling and cutting of product in smaller diameter ranges. There will also be some caster improvements designed to assist with overall throughput at the Jackson, Mich., mill operation.

AVL Acquires Schrick GmbH
AVL, a global supplier of powertrain engineering and instrumentation systems, has completed the acquisition of engine development company Schrick in Remscheid, Germany, with U.S. operations based in Osceola, Wisc. The move is one in a series of recent acquisitions intended to bolster AVL’s position supplying powertrain engineering and instrumentation around the world. Ford, Volkswagen and other OEM suppliers use Schrick technology. The V-6 4.0L engine for the Explorer and the Ford 1.0L SOHC for the Brazilian, South African and Indian markets are both Schrick-developed products. Schrick develops and engineers engines that range from one to more than 12 cylinders and from 2 hp to more than 1,000 hp.

Delphi to Supply Suppression Systems to GM
Delphi Corp. has been selected to supply its Recognition passive occupant detection system for six future General Motors car platforms. Delphi Delco Electronics Systems is already supplying the system for several GM truck platforms including the 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Denali and Cadillac Escalade models and for several other manufacturers. When combined with Delphi’s seat Belt Tension Switch, the Delphi Recognition passive occupant detection system is designed to provide vehiclemakers a system that complies with the recently enacted Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 regulations. The regulation requires an advanced airbag system on all vehicles destined for sale in the U.S. by 2006.

JCI Signs Seat Contract
Automotive interior supplier Johnson Controls has been selected by Ford Motor Co. to build and supply complete seat systems for a number of Ford and Lincoln models that are manufactured at the automaker’s southeast Michigan facility. The supplier will provide seating systems for the Ford Focus, Expedition and Mustang, and the Lincoln Navigator and Town Car. Johnson Controls will assume operational responsibilities for current seating production for these vehicles in Chesterfield, Mich. Details on the terms of the agreement were not released. In 2004, seating assembly operations will be relocated to other Johnson Controls manufacturing sites within southeast Michigan, including one new facility. Company officials say locations for this work will be identified at a future date.

Ricardo Acquires Tarragon
Ricardo plc, an independent automotive engineering consultancy, has acquired Tarragon Embedded Technology Ltd., an automotive systems software company based in Cambridge, U.K. The acquisition was made in order to enhance Ricardo’s electronic capability by adding embedded software. The market for automotive electronics is expected to grow from 20 to 30 percent of the cost of a vehicle by 2010. The factors behind this are legislation, safety and customer convenience, which have been significant segments of Ricardo’s business for the last 20 years. In addition, the acquisition increases Ricardo’s existing controls and electronics headcount by 50 percent. Post acquisition, Ricardo will have more than 150 people, representing 10 percent of its staff, dedicated to expanding its capability in this fast growing technology area serving the world’s OEM and Tier suppliers.

Europe

Phase Two of Ford/Peugeot Diesel JV
PSA Peugeot Citro?n unveiled the second phase of a plan to make diesel engines with Ford, announcing that the two companies have invested a total of nearly $1.07 billion between 2001 and 2003 to make new 1.6L and 2.0L diesel engines. They expect to produce 1.6 million engines per year by 2005. Production of the engines has already begun at PSA Peugeot's Tremery plant in eastern France. The engines will be used in models from both companies starting the second half of 2003 and will eventually be installed in 37 different vehicle versions.

Continental and Bosch Form Coalition
Continental Teves, a unit of Continental AG, and Robert Bosch Corp. have joined together to form the Electronic Stability Control Coalition. Electronic stability control refers to an active safety system designed to enhance vehicle stability in critical situations by analyzing the driver's intention and comparing it to what the car is actually doing. The purpose of the coalition is to promote the impact that ESC systems can have on improving the safety of automobiles. One goal of the coalition is to inform consumers of the possible benefits of ESC. The public education program will include the development of issues research, as well as the creation of broad-based grassroots programs, namely seminars and brochures.

GenCorp Sells German Mixing Facility
GenCorp Inc.'s GDX Automotive segment completed an agreement to sell the assets and operations of its Viersen, Germany, mixing facility to its supplier, Vigar Deutschland GmbH, a subsidiary of Vigar S.A., Spain. The mixing facility currently produces an annual volume of 7,000 metric tons of specific rubber compounds needed for vehicle sealing systems for GDX Automotive's German customer base.

Mitsubishi to use German Engine in Japan Colt
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will begin using German-made engines for its Colt subcompact sold in Japan starting around 2005. The engines will be produced at a factory being built jointly by Mitsubishi Motors and DaimlerChrysler in Koelleda, Germany. The plant is scheduled to be completed by December.

Renault Accelerates Russian Expansion
Renault has decided to accelerate its expansion in Russia by investing about $230 million in the local production and marketing of its future X90 vehicle, scheduled to arrive in mid-2005. The production line -- to be set up in Moscow at the plant belonging to Avtoframos, a subsidiary which is owned 62 percent by Renault and 38 percent by the City of Moscow -- will have a capacity of 60,000 vehicles a year. The X90 is currently being developed by Renault's vehicle and powertrain engineering teams in France. The X90 will use a platform derived from the Renault-Nissan Alliance B platform, and will be designed for reliability and simplicity of use in countries where infrastructures still vary in quality and climatic conditions are often severe. The million dollar investment will cover the installation of production lines in the Avtoframos plant in Moscow, and the development of the sales network and support functions. Equipped with sheet metal, paint and final assembly shops, the initial production capacity at the Moscow site set at 60,000 vehicles a year should be reached after two to three years of operation.

Asia/Pacific

GM to Invest $60 Million in India Tech Center
General Motors Corp. plans to invest $60 million over three years in an Indian technology center that will aid global engineering and research for making futuristic vehicles. According to GM, the center will begin work in June and collaborate with U.S. and European centers of the company over high-speed communication links from Bangalore.

Nissan Enters China SUV Market
Nissan Motor Co. is entering the Chinese sport/utility vehicle market thanks its 30 percent-owned venture, Zhengzhou Nissan Automobile Co. Ltd., located in central Henan province. Zhengzhou Nissan Automobile has started producing the Paladin SUV, available in 2.4L and 3.3L models, and is anticipating selling 10,000 units in the first year.

Subaru Cars to Adopt G-Book
Toyota Motor Corp. will allow Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.'s Subaru-brand to carry its G-Book information and entertainment system. Under the agreement, Toyota's GBook telematics system will be loaded into Subaru cars to be sold in Japan beginning in 2004.
G-Book, which is linked to the car navigation system, offers a wide range of interactive services from downloading music and karaoke to playing games and customized news reports.

Toyota to Invest in Indonesia
Toyota Motor Corp. has announced plans to invest $180 million in Indonesia, after taking control of its manufacturing unit in the country. Toyota and its Indonesian manufacturing partner, PT Astra International, said they will divide their joint venture car firm, Toyota Astra Motor, into two firms, with one firm handling manufacturing and the other distribution. After the restructuring, Toyota will control 95 percent of the manufacturing unit and 49 percent of the distribution arm. The remainder would be owned by Astra. The investment is planned to take place by 2005.

Kolbenschmidt Pierburg Takes Over Piston Business
KS Kolbenschmidt GmbH has taken over the pistons business of Microtechno Corp., Hiroshima, Japan, from Mazda Motor Corp. Microtechno has been manufacturing pistons since 1972. The piston unit presently generates sales of around $20 million. For Kolbenschmidt Pierburg AG, the takeover of Microtechno is another step in its expansion into Asia. Since 1997, the company has been building pistons for the growing Asian market as part of a Shanghai-based joint venture. Kolbenschmidt Pierburg has nine production plants around the globe, including Germany, France, the Czech Republic, the U.S., Canada, Brazil and China.

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