DETROIT -- General Motors may be losing money and market share, but GM has been good for Aisin Group, a Japanese Tier 1 supplier of brakes, transmissions, chassis and other automotive components.
In North America, Aisin is expecting to report $3.3 billion in sales for the fiscal year ended March 31. That's a 33 percent sales increase from the previous year, said Don Whitsitt, executive vice president of Aisin World Corp. of America.
"We're kind of grateful to have a pretty good story to tell," Whitsitt said during the SAE 2006 World Congress.
The growth last year and the 5 percent growth in sales that Aisin expects to experience this year in North America is being fueled mainly by the increase in GM business, including the sunroof system on GM's large SUVs, Whitsitt said.
Aisin also has enjoyed a significant increase in transmission business in North America from the Pontiac Torrent and Solstice, Saturn Sky, Dodge Caliber and other vehicles.
Also, Whitsitt said, "We have a ton of content on the all-new 2007 Toyota Camry." Toyota is Aisin's largest customer and owns 24.5 percent of the supplier.
To keep pace with the growth, Aisin Group has constructed or expanded 20 facilities during the last two years, including plants in Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Michigan.
The company is doing well globally, too. Aisin anticipates global consolidated sales of $18.9 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, up 12 percent over the same period a year ago, said Junichi Nishimura, president of Aisin World Corp. of America.
During the SAE show, Aisin featured the world's first hybrid transmission for rear-wheel-drive passenger vehicles, developed jointly with Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America Inc. It has been installed on the Lexus GS 450h, which is available in Japan but not yet in the United States.
The Lexus GS 450h has a 300-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine and a high-output electric motor, he said.
"This shows that you can expand hybrids into performance vehicles," Whitsitt said. "So a performance vehicle can have great fuel economy."
You may e-mail Ralph Kisiel at [email protected]