LONDON - The joint venture between Pi Technology, the British-based electronics and software engineering company, and Ford Motor Co.'s Visteon components division, is seen as a breakthrough in its field.
Rather than Visteon buying the small English company outright, the 50-50 partnership will allow Pi to develop its other interests, mainly in motorsports, while hooking into the resources of the world's second-largest parts supplier.
Pi Group, formed in 1991, will increase its payroll from 80 to more than 200 over the next 18 months as a result of the partnership.
Pi Research, which specializes in electronic control systems, will continue as a separate company under the agreement.
Pi Technology will develop on-board electronics and software for everything from two-stroke motorcycle engines to industrial engines for power generators.
'Our target with Ford is to develop engines that run 150,000 miles without missing a beat,' said Managing Director Keith Jackson.
'For trucks, we need to get to 1 million miles, and power generators need to be running continuously at 90 to 95 percent capacity without failing.'
The Visteon link arose because Pi exports 80 percent of its production to the United States, where its products caught Ford's eye.
'British companies have a good reputation there,' Jackson said.
John Kill, Visteon's European operations director, said he expects the venture with Pi to 'greatly benefit' Visteon's product development process, particularly in powertrain control systems.
'The operation is small, nimble and has a unique capability in its field,' he said. 'These are the special qualities that have made Pi Technology so successful.'