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Supplier Roundup

A roundup of this week’s news involving automotive suppliers.

Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC, a joint venture between Johnson Controls Inc. and Saft Power Systems Inc., joins Cobasys LLC as a winner of contracts to develop lithium-ion battery systems for General Motors Corp.’s upcoming Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV). The two companies each are developing their own unique battery technologies for the application, with both systems set to be evaluated by GM when prototype Vue PHEVs hit the road later this year.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. workers represented by the United Steelworkers of America at 16 plants have returned to work following ratification of a new master contract Dec. 29. The pact will save Goodyear $610 million over its 3-year life, plus provide $300 million annually in ongoing savings, the company says. The deal allows Goodyear to transfer all current and future retiree health-care liabilities to a VEBA trust, significantly reducing legacy costs. It also promises investment totaling $550 million at USW-represented facilities over the next three years, provides profit sharing for workers in 2009 and 2010 and restores some pension benefits. In exchange, Goodyear will be allowed to pay new workers lower wages for the first three years of employment, and it reportedly will offer buyouts of as much as $40,000 to as many as 400 U.S. workers.

In addition, the tire maker says it will close its Tyler, TX, plant after Dec. 31, 2007, eliminating capacity for 9 million tires annually. It previously announced a goal to reduce capacity by 15 million to 20 million tires annually by 2008.

The supplier also will end tire production at its Valleyfield, QC, Canada, plant by the end of the second quarter, converting the facility into a materials mixing center. The plant currently employs 1,000 workers, while about 200 jobs will be retained for the mixing operations.

Meanwhile, Goodyear closes on the previously announced sale of its tire fabric operations to South Korea’s Hyosung Corp. Hyosung will take over the Brazilian operation during first-quarter 2007, pending government and regulatory approvals. In addition, the two companies have signed a multi-year supply agreement Goodyear says will cut costs and improve its cash flow.

Hughes Telematics Inc. will supply Chrysler Group with its proprietary telematics, infotainment and remote diagnostic solutions for use in future vehicles, the first such OEM contract for the Atlanta-based company.

Haldex will sell its manufacturing plant in Paris, TN, to Mumbai, India-based Setco Automotive Ltd. for $4.9 million. Setco also will get certain product lines manufactured at the plant as part of the deal, but the bulk of existing production is being transferred to other Haldex facilities. Setco says it is the largest manufacturer of clutches for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles in India. Haldex says the sale will allow it to concentrate on its core commercial vehicle air-brake system product lines.

Meridian Automotive Systems Inc. officially emerges from Chapter 11, as the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approves its plan of reorganization that includes a $167 million exit financing facility with Deutsche Bank.

Accuride Corp. says CEO Terrence J. Keating is taking on chairman of the board duties effective immediately. President and Chief Financial Officer John R. Murphy is named chief operating officer and will remain president. David K. Armstrong, formerly a senior vice president, is named CFO.

TAGS: Vehicles
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