Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 343, April 1998

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Japanese Companies in the US


Industry sources speculate that the first product jointly designed and engineered by MAZDA MOTOR CORP. and its de facto parent, FORD MOTOR CO., will be a 2,000-cubic-centimeter sport-utility vehicle. Although the interiors and the exteriors of the SUV reportedly will differ, the two automotive makers will be able to cut development and manufacturing costs by using a common platform and sharing parts. Production could start in the spring of the year 2000, with Ford building 200,000 units the first year and Mazda having an initial run of 10,000 SUVs.

The yen's weakness has persuaded UNISIA JECS CORP. to postpone indefinitely the launch of drive shaft production at a new plant in Piedmont, Georgia. Instead, the company will continue to build drive shafts in Japan for supply to the SUBARU-ISUZU AUTOMOTIVE INC. plant in Lafayette, Indiana. The Georgia plant will open as scheduled in January 1999, but other products will be made there.

Aluminum automotive wheel manufacturer ALUMITECH, INC. now is wholly owned by HAYES LEMMERZ INTERNATIONAL INC. The Romulus, Michigan- based supplier of wheels and brake components, which initially put up half of the Somerset, Kentucky manufacturer's capital, bought out partners ASAHI TEC CORP. (40 percent) and TOMEN CORP. (10 percent) for an undisclosed price. Alumitech, in operation since 1989, has annual sales of around $50 million.

TOYO RADIATOR CO., LTD. has dissolved AMERICAN TRS, INC., a company set up in 1988 in Indianapolis, Indiana to oversee production of fuel tanks for transplant vehicles by an unidentified American manufacturer and to handle marketing and after-sale service. The Japanese parts maker, which attributed its move to fierce competition in the U.S. market, will continue to provide technical support to its former business partner and supply it with some parts.

With European, American and Japanese car and truck makers building plants in such Latin American countries as Brazil and Argentina or expanding their existing operations, audio equipment supplier CLARION CO., LTD. sees the opportunity to do more business in the region. It accordingly is setting up a company in Miami to manage Latin American sales. Previously, this job was handled by Clarion's Gardena, California subsidiary.

An exchange rate of ¥129=$1.00 was used in this report.

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