DETROIT -- Denso International America Inc. announced today plans for its North American expansion.
The U.S. unit of Japan's Denso Corp. will build a $57 million plant in Silao, Mexico; open an r&d office in the Silicon Valley of California; and expand its operations in suburban Detroit to house labs for battery cooling and in-dash technology engineering.
The expansion of the battery lab is funded by a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Doug Patton, senior vice president of Denso International, told Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News, on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. The lab will engineer different ways to cool car batteries.
The supplier's investment in its human machine interface lab -- including communications, mobile web and safety systems -- is designed to provide significant research and development improvements for North American customers, Patton said.
"The North American market, its integration of smartphones and technology with the car, is moving quicker than anywhere else in the world," he said. "It's a competitive market, but we have the ability to supply all the components of a system as a whole."
The two labs will create up to 50 jobs at the U.S. headquarters in Southfield, Mich., Patton said.
To harness new mobile technologies, Denso is joining the ranks of many automakers, with an "idea generator" in Silicon Valley. Ford Motor Co. announced its new operation there last week.
"This is something we need to do; this is one more step for our expansion in North America," Patton said. "We're going to be doing more r&d here and push products out globally instead of just Japan."
The new Mexico plant, scheduled for completion in 2013, will supply heating and cooling components to several automakers, Patton said. The plant will employ more than 400 people by 2015.
Denso also plans to manufacture power electronic hybrid components in existing manufacturing plants by 2014-15.