DETROIT - Hella Group is reorganizing its U.S. lighting activities after deciding to quit the North American Lighting joint venture formed in 1983 with Japanese companies Koito and Ichikoh. Hella intends to extend its activities further in the North American Free Trade Agreement region with increased brand and manufacturing presence.
DETROIT - Recaro and Sears Manufacturing will combine truck seating operations to develop, manufacture and market next- generation seating for North America's heavy truck, bus and mass-transit industries. Recaro Sears LLC will make a line of heavy-duty seating products.
CHICAGO - Navistar International and Siemens Automotive Systems plan to form a joint venture to develop and manufacture proprietary diesel fuel injectors incorporating digital valve technology. The two companies will co-manufacture electronically controlled, hydraulically actuated high-pressure injectors for use in diesel fuel systems designed and manufactured by Navistar's engine and foundry division.
TOLEDO, Ohio - Dana Corp.'s Spicer Axle Division will supply an innovative front pan axle to the 2001 Range Rover. The BMW-engineered sport-utility, code-named L30, will use Dana's independent front oil pan axle, in which the final drive unit bolts directly to the engine oil pan. Dana expects to produce about 30,000 axles a year.
DETROIT - Meritor Automotive and Freightliner have signed a multiyear supply agreement under which Meritor's newest axle, transmission, clutch and antilock brakes products will become standard equipment on several models.
SENDAI - Toyota Motor Corp. has opened a small plant here to produce electronic antilock brakes actuators and electronic suspension parts, just the second time that the automaker has located a plant in Japan away from its headquarters in Toyota City. The plant, in the rural Tohoku region northeast of Tokyo, will supply only Toyota assembly plants in Japan. Until now, Toyota has bought 90 percent of its ABS actuator needs from outside suppliers, making only 10 percent at its Hirose plant, which also is dedicated to electronic parts. With production of 26,000 ABS actuators a month at the new Sendai plant, Toyota will supply 20 percent of its needs internally and buy 80 percent from outside suppliers.
TOKYO - Suzuki Motor Co. has agreed to purchase 1.9-liter turbodiesels from France's PSA Group for use in the compact Suzuki Baleno. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but it is believed to mark the first time a Japanese automaker has installed a European diesel into a volume model. The Baleno 1.9TD - in both 4-door sedan and 5-door wagon versions - will be produced at Suzuki's Kosai plant in Japan and marketed beginning early next year.
TOKYO - The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association has mounted a new push to get the government to launch a 'clunker junker' tax-incentive scheme of the sort that has been used successfully in France, Italy and Spain to buoy sales. JAMA says a measure to encourage trade-ins of cars more than 7 years old would increase new-vehicle sales by 400,000 units a year, or about 6 percent. Seven years may not be long enough for a car to turn into an oil-burner, but setting the cutoff there would mean that most of the cars sold before Japan's 'Bubble Economy' burst in 1990 would be eligible.