BEIJING -- Key Safety Systems Inc. has signed on to help China's Chery Automobile Co. produce vehicles suitable for the U.S.
On Tuesday, April 25, Key, of Sterling Heights, Mich., signed a memorandum of understanding to develop advanced safety systems such as airbags and seat belts for Chery.
Experienced suppliers can speed Chery's development times, says Brian Kaiser, Key senior vice president of Asia operations in Shanghai.
Entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin's company, Visionary Vehicles LLC, plans to import Chery cars to the United States starting in 2007.
Key has supplied Chery with airbags, seat belts and steering-wheel products for its cars for China since 2002. In 2003, Carlyle Management Group, a Texas-based investment firm, acquired Breed Technologies Inc. and renamed it Key Safety Systems.
Key engineers in China, the United States, and Germany are expected to work on the new Chery design projects. Engineers from Chery will work cooperatively with Key engineers, Kaiser says.
The bulk of the work will be done at Key's Asia Technology Center in Shanghai. The center is a joint venture with Yanfeng Visteon Automotive Trim Systems Co., a Visteon Corp. joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. in Shanghai.
The Shanghai center has advanced crash-test equipment and the same development and validation capabilities as Key's U.S. and German centers, Kaiser says.
Key has more than 100 engineers in Shanghai; that is expected to grow to 500 over several years.
The biggest hurdle for Chinese auto manufacturers seeking to enter the U.S. and Europe is meeting stringent safety and emissions standards.
Working with international companies is one way for Chery to meet the standards quickly, says an engineer at the Chery engineering institute in Wuhu, in central China's Anhui province. He declined to be identified.
"Chery has speeded up its cooperation with international companies," he says. "We still need experienced engineers."
Engine developer AVL List GmbH of Austria is another international company Chery is working with. Italy's Gruppo Bertone has designed cars for Chery.
You may e-mail Alysha Webb at [email protected]