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No. 353, February 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


To better serve the North American automotive industry, big bearing manufacturer NTN CORP. opened a state-of-the-art technical center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The facility currently is equipped with computer-controlled testing equipment for constant velocity joints, a product that NTN supplies to GENERAL MOTORS CORP. and FORD MOTOR CO. They and other customers also can use the center's secure service bays to install NTN products and testing devices on their test vehicles before taking them to their test tracks. In a second phase, scheduled for 2000, the center will have test equipment for hub bearings and engine parts. A longtime U.S. manufacturer, NTN has eight plants here as well as test laboratories, sales, engineering and distribution centers across the country. It also operates a technical center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Altogether, the company employs 3,600 people in North America.

From October, forklift manufacturer TOYOTA INDUSTRIAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURING, INC. will make the world's first lift truck with a computer-controlled safety system. Designed, for example, to prevent the machine from tilting when the lift mechanism is loaded, the safety assurance system initially will be incorporated in TIEM's engine-powered Geneo. The Columbus, Indiana company expects to turn out 19,000 Geneo lift trucks in the first six months of production. Parents TOYODA AUTOMATIC LOOM WORKS, LTD. (80 percent) and TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. (20 percent) are considering the system for battery-operated forklifts made by 10-year-old TIEM.

Like other hard-pressed Japanese manufacturers of construction equipment, ISHIKAWAJIMA CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY CO., LTD. hopes to take advantage of a strong U.S. residential and commercial building market. The manufacturer of compact excavators, which have been distributed by COMPACT EQUIPMENT CORP., believes that a more hands-on approach could lift sales. Consequently, Ishikawajima and its Elizabethtown, Kentucky agent have formed COMPACT EXCAVATOR SALES CORP., also located in Elizabethtown, to handle sales of the imported product on an exclusive basis. The Japanese partner has a 25 percent interest in the 10-person company.

NIIGATA ENGINEERING CO., LTD. has lined up a powerful marketing ally for its new line of liquid fuel generator sets for the power generation and industrial markets. Under a five-year arrangement, the GE Power Systems unit of GENERAL ELECTRIC CO., the world's leading supplier of power- generation technology, will be the exclusive distributor of the HLX line in the Americas, Europe, Africa and in parts of the Middle East and Asia. Niigata Engineering will be responsible for sales in Japan, South Korea, Iran and Iraq. Both companies will service such markets as the People's Republic of China. GE Power Systems says that the HLX products, which currently have an output rating of 1.2 megawatts to 9.7 MW, achieve the highest performance level of any medium-speed reciprocating engine on the market. In another plus, they can burn heavy fuel oil as well as lighter diesel fuels. The line also features simplified maintenance and inspection.

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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