DETROIT -- Japanese supplier Aisin Seiki Co. moved into a larger North American headquarters and technical center here in July, part of an effort to sell more products to the Detroit 3.
"A lot of Detroit 3 engineering is here," Harry Torimoto, vice president of operations for Aisin Technical Center of America, said at the center's opening in Northville, a suburb of Detroit. "We have to be able to interface with the customer."
The new center allows Aisin to expand its testing and research capabilities in North America. Torimoto said many of Aisin's products are engineered and tested in the United States, though engine and chassis product design is still done primarily in Japan.
Aisin, well known for its transmissions, supplies body, electronics, drivetrain, engine and chassis parts to automakers worldwide, including Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen and the Detroit 3. Toyota holds a 23 percent stake in the supplier.
The 200,000-square-foot facility -- formerly occupied by Maxion Wheels -- houses 300 employees who handle sales, marketing, administration, testing and warehousing. The headquarters plans to add 51 employees over the next few months.
The center is home to a $3 million dynamometer for engine and transmission testing. The facility holds simulators for high and low temperatures, salt and other weather conditions. It also can test new materials.
Aisin established its technical center for North America in 1995 as part of Aisin World Corp. of America, employing a handful of people. It was the first Aisin center outside Japan.
Aisin Seiki ranks No. 5 on the most recent Automotive News list of top 100 global parts suppliers, with worldwide original-equipment parts sales to automakers of an estimated $27.1 billion for the fiscal year.
The grand opening follows an executive transition. In April, Yoshiaki Kato, a former Toyota executive, became president of Aisin Technical Center of America, replacing Takashi Aoyama.