Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 356, May 1999

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American Companies in Japan


IMPCO TECHNOLOGIES INC., which sells equipment that allows internal combustion engines to operate on propane, natural gas and other clean gaseous fuels, acquired certain assets of the Fukuoka-based alternative fuel systems division of MIKUNI CORP. The carburetor manufacturer has distributed the Cerritos, California company's products in Japan since 1994. With these operations as a base, IMPCO Technologies established a subsidiary in Fukuoka to serve the Asian market. Its products are designed for forklifts and other other materials-handling equipment, small portable to large stationary engines and motor vehicles.

With self-service gas stations legal in Japan, DRESSER INDUSTRIES, INC. is working with TOKICO LTD. to develop gas pumps for this market. The big Dallas energy equipment manufacturer has sold its own pumps for both manned and self-serve gas stations in Japan since early 1997. However, the tie-up will allow Dresser to tap the expertise of Tokico, which is a major supplier of flowmeters to the oil industry although it is best known as an automotive parts maker, as well as its marketing channels. Dresser's customers include EXXON CORP. and MOBIL CORP., both of which operate gas stations in Japan, while Tokico has ties to most domestic oil companies.

The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning business in Japan has a new, heavyweight player: TOSHIBA CARRIER CORP. The Fuji, Shizuoka prefecture joint venture represents the combination of TOSHIBA CORP.'s entire air conditioning equipment division, which had FY 1997 sales of $1.1 billion, and the TOYO CARRIER ENGINEERING CO., LTD. unit of CARRIER CORP., the world's biggest maker of HVAC systems with 1998 revenues of $6.9 billion. Carrier, a UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP. company, has a 40 percent stake in Toshiba Carrier (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 14). The Toshiba-Carrier alliance extends overseas. In the United Kingdom, Carrier now is the majority owner of a former Toshiba HVAC plant, while the American company and Toshiba Carrier are the equal owners of a Thai factory set up by the Japanese company. In addition, Carrier will integrate Toshiba's foreign HVAC sales organizations into its own operations. It also will offer Toshiba-branded HVAC products internationally as a complement to the Carrier lineup.

Given all the products that it has introduced recently, construction equipment supplier SHIN CATERPILLAR MITSUBISHI LTD. obviously sees the growth of public works spending as an opportunity to expand sales. It has added two CATERPILLAR INC. hydraulic excavators to two redesigned REGA shovels put on the market earlier this year. All of these models feature a minimal rear-body projection for improved stability and safety. One of the new CAT products is in the 13-ton-class. Priced at $152,500, it has a 0.6-cubic-yard bucket. Sales of this excavator are projected at 300 units in the first year. The other new model, which lists for $233,300, is Shin Caterpillar's second entry in the 20-ton-class. It has a 1-cubic-yard bucket. Combined sales of the two 20- ton-class products are forecast at 150 units.

Boston's Z CORP. named TOYOTA TSUSHO CORP. as the exclusive distributor of its Z402 3D printer. Like other rapid prototyping systems, this machine produces solid objects measuring up to 10 x 8 x 8 inches from 3D models created by CAD data. However, the Z402 is said to operate considerably faster than other 3D production systems.

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

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