International Desk

Daimler-Nissan deal getting closer According to a report in Japan's Kyodo News, Germany's Daimler-Benz AG and Japan's Nissan Diesel Motor Co. are drawing closer in talks on forming a cooperative pact to build and market trucks. Currently, working-level negotiations are proceeding. However, it was reported that Rainer Jahn, president of Daimler-Benz Japan Co., said a formal decision wouldn't be reached

Daimler-Nissan deal getting closer According to a report in Japan's Kyodo News, Germany's Daimler-Benz AG and Japan's Nissan Diesel Motor Co. are drawing closer in talks on forming a cooperative pact to build and market trucks. Currently, working-level negotiations are proceeding. However, it was reported that Rainer Jahn, president of Daimler-Benz Japan Co., said a formal decision wouldn't be reached until after October. That's because the German OEM has its planned merger with Chrysler Corp. on the front burner. According to Jahn, Daimler-Benz must also decide on the acquisition of shares in Nissan Diesel - Nissan's truck-building operation - from that firm's principal shareholder, Nissan Motor Co., after a deal is inked. He said Daimler-Benz Japan could begin producing small commercial vehicles in Japan for that market and for export to other Asian markets. Jahn added that such a move would be in keeping with the German parent's plan to push up its sales in Asia from 8% of entire revenue to 20% to 25%.

Making tracks for China The supplier of the OmniTRACS mobile-communications system, San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc., has reached an agreement with Guangdong South Satellite Telecommunication Service Co. (SST) to conduct field trials late this year in the People's Republic of China. Under the terms, SST will operate and demonstrate the OmniTRACS system to Chinese transportation companies. Qualcomm and SST have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for commercial rollout of the system upon successful completion of the trial run. Qualcomm says the deal will make it the first to offer a "proven" two-way mobile communications and tracking system to the Chinese trucking industry. "We chose Qualcomm's technology for its superior qualities and management-information applications, coupled with the company's successful international deployment," said Gu Cai Ming, SST director and general manager.

Dana's Rolling Chassis in Brazil Dana Corp. has introduced its new Rolling Chassis module to serve Chrysler Corp.'s new Dodge Dakota pickup truck plant in Brazil. The component supplier calls the Rolling Chassis the most complex assembly module supplied to the vehicle maker. Designed specifically for Brazilian-made Dakotas, it incorporates more than 200 components, including frame, rear axle, driveshaft, suspension, steering, brakes, fuel tank, electrical circuits, wheels, and tires (hence its name). Dana says the Rolling Chassis will both streamline the assembly process and satisfy local-content requirements. The manufacturer also states that the module is the first application of its kind to be used in volume pickup production anywhere in the world. The modules are assembled at a new Dana 76,000-sq.-ft. facility, located less than three miles from Chrysler's Campo Largo plant. Rolling Chassis are delivered less than two hours from time of order and are literally rolled onto the assembly line as one component. Campo Largo is the automaker's first pickup-truck plant outside North America and has the capacity to produce 40,000 vehicles a year.

Eaton launches China venture A joint venture has been formed by Eaton Corp. and Shenglong Group Co. to produce viscous fan drives (VFD) for the truck and auto markets in the People's Republic of China. Privately owned Shenglong is China's biggest VFD producer. The new venture, Eaton Shenglong Co., consists of Shenglong's former First Automotive Group Viscous Fan Div. According to Eaton, first-year sales are expected to be about $4 million. If current forecasts hold, that figure will skyrocket to $25 million annually over the next five years. While Shenglong will provide its existing manufacturing operations and equipment, Eaton will supply product engineering and manufacturing-technology support to the joint venture company. Eaton Shenglong will operate from a site in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, about 100 miles southeast of Shanghai. Heinz Wollmann, formerly Eaton manufacturing manager in Markdorf,Germany, has been named general manager. The fan-drive deal comes on the heels of other recent business initiatives in China. As a result, the component maker now has six operations in China, as well as a holding company based there.

Volvo gives Meritor axles thumbs up Sweden's Volvo Truck Corp. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Meritor Automotive Inc. that would make Meritor the primary supplier of rear axles to Volvo Truck's assembly plants worldwide. As part of the agreement, Volvo will sell its rear axle operations in Lindesberg, Sweden, to Meritor. The plant would then continue to supply axles to Volvo trucks. "The chief aim of the agreement is to assure Volvo Trucks of a competitive supply of high-quality rear axles on a global basis," said Karl-Erling Trogen, president of Volvo Truck. "The resulting economies of scale will be positive from a cost point of view." As for Meritor, Larry Yost, chairman & CEO, said the deal represents a major growth opportunity forthe component maker and "provides premier manufacturing capacity and leverages our global production volumes."

Pay as you go In Singapore, the city-state known for mandatory manners, drivers must use pre-paid cash cards that are automatically read by toll barriers. Intended to cut congestion, the $118-million electronic road-pricing system does let truck operators pay less than car drivers.

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