Rising demand for diesel engines in North America has spurred Robert Bosch Corp. to commit $150 million to expand its U.S. manufacturing operations.
Bosch said last week that it will install two new production lines in Charleston, S.C., to produce diesel common-rail injectors.
The German company will supply its hardware for diesel versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, plus the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe sport-utilities.
A Bosch spokesman said the company is negotiating to supply other North American vehicle makers, but declined to name them.
Bosch is trying to build on the rapid growth of demand for common-rail systems in Europe.
Worldwide, 9 million vehicles were built with diesel engines last year, including 25 percent of Western Europe's passenger vehicles. Bosch predicts 12.5 million new vehicles worldwide will be equipped with diesels in 2005.
Bosch currently supplies common-rail injection systems to Peugeot, BMW, Renault, Mercedes-Benz and Fiat. Meanwhile, BMW AG and Mercedes-Benz have launched V-8 turbodiesels, and Volkswagen AG recently unveiled a concept V-10 turbodiesel.
With common-rail injection, the engine's fuel injectors draw fuel from a single pipe at high pressure. The technology allows better atomization of the fuel for cleaner burning.
Common-rail technology is considered crucial to making diesels clean enough to meet new emissions regulations.
Although demand for light-duty diesels is meager in the United States, some observers say recent reductions in noise, vibration and emissions will make these engines more palatable to American motorists.
One early adopter in North America will be General Motors, which will use Bosch's common-rail injectors in diesels to be produced by a GM-Isuzu engine joint venture.
The joint venture - dubbed DMAX Ltd. and based in Moraine, Ohio - will supply GM with 200,000 diesel engines a year. The Isuzu-developed diesels also are being produced in Poland for GM's European needs.
Additionally, at the Tokyo auto show, GM and Isuzu unveiled a new diesel-powered concept sport-utility called the 160, plus a prototype V-6 diesel engine.
North American suppliers also are trying to generate enthusiasm for diesels. Last year, Detroit Diesel Corp. unveiled its own V-6 diesel concept engine showcased in a Dodge Durango. Detroit Diesel has predicted growing demand for diesels in light-duty pickups and sport-utilities.