TOKYO - Nissan Motor Co.'s automatic-transmission subsidiary, Jatco TransTechnology Ltd., is looking for new stakeholders.
'We are negotiating with several companies all over the world' to acquire a stake, said Hiroshi Nishi, board member responsible for new business development, in an interview here.
Nissan, which owns a 100 percent stake in Jatco, is dismantling many of its keiretsu ties in an attempt to reorganize and pare debt. Jatco was set up by Nissan and Mazda in 1970, but Mazda sold its stake in the company to Nissan in August.
Jatco TransTechnology then was formed Oct. 1 through the merger of Jatco Corp. and TransTechnology Ltd., the transmission development and production division of Nissan's Fuji plant. It is Japan's second-biggest automatic transmission maker after Aisin AW, the Toyota group affiliate. Jatco produced about 1 million transmissions in 1998, while Nissan's former in-house operations produced 1.3 million.
A merger of the two operations had been discussed for a decade, Nishi said, but Nissan's problems and competing investment demands forced a decision. Jatco sold 45 percent of its output to Nissan before the merger with TransTechnology, and the combined company supplies 70 percent of its output to Nissan.
The group plans to reduce that dependence to 50 percent by 2003, Nishi said. 'We already have seven requests for automatic transmissions for other auto companies, including four already decided outside Japan.'
Jatco already supplies BMW, Rover and Volkswagen in Europe.
Demand is increasing both for smaller, lighter automatic transmissions offering more gears and for continuously variable transmissions, or CVTs, Nishi said.
In the next two years, Nissan will offer a CVT unit capable of handling torque loads up to 300 newton meters, Nishi said. That load capacity will make it suitable for large cars, he said. Jatco also will offer a six-speed automatic 'in the near future,' he added.
Other developments under way include a high-performance automatic transmission for hybrid-electric vehicles, intelligent hybrid transmissions and integrated starter alternator dampers, Nishi said.
He said the company is operating at 90 percent capacity, turning out 2.4 million transmissions a year. The company expects sales to increase to 300 billion in 2002, or about $2.9 billion at current exchange rates, from 250 billion this year.
'We believe that car manufacturers' in-house production of automatic transmissions will decrease,' Nishi said. 'Carmakers must invest in many new things, such as environmental demands.'