International Desk

Dana on the march Dana Corp. has announced it is acquiring control of a leading Brazilian component maker and plans to establish a new Asia Engineering Center. Through a Brazilian subsidiary, Dana has attained about 98% of the capital of Nakata S.A. Industria e Comercio. The Sao Paulo-based firm is Brazil's largest producer of suspension components. Nakata also makes shock absorbers and has a subsidiary

Dana on the march Dana Corp. has announced it is acquiring control of a leading Brazilian component maker and plans to establish a new Asia Engineering Center. Through a Brazilian subsidiary, Dana has attained about 98% of the capital of Nakata S.A. Industria e Comercio. The Sao Paulo-based firm is Brazil's largest producer of suspension components. Nakata also makes shock absorbers and has a subsidiary that produces parts in Argentina. For 1997, Nakata reported sales of over $110 million. "Together with Dana's other structural and driveline components," says Mike Laisure, Dana's vp-modular systems, "Nakata's products make Dana the leading supplier of suspension components to the Mercosur marketplace."

Slated to open early next year in Japan, Dana's new engineering center will provide "closer and quicker engineering support" for the company's operations and customers in the Asia-Pacific region. The center will provide assistance in the application of such core Dana products as axles, driveshafts, and structural components. It will also develop modular systems and assemblies that incorporate core components. According to Dana, the center will support the communication services and computer-aided design functions already provided by company offices in Tokyo and in Seoul, Korea.

An appetite for Chile Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has taken a 14% equity interest in Neumaticos de Chile S.A., which has been a licensee of Firestone car and truck tires in Chile since 1983. The stock was acquired by a newly formed Chilean company, Bridgestone/Firestone (Chile) Ltda. As a result, the firm has changed its name to Firestone Chile S.A. (FSCH). The Santiago-based firm recorded 1997 sales of $50 million and employs more than 600 persons throughout Chile. The FSCH plant in Coquimbo produces one-million tires a year. Over 70% of the tires are exported to the U.S., with the remainder distributed in the Andean nation. "We believe Chile has very good potential to grow as a tire market in the 21st century," notes Bridgestone/Firestone chairman & CEO Masatoshi Ono.

Barking down under According to a newswire report, Mack Trucks Inc. will expand its operations in Australia to the tune of $7 million (Australian) over the next five years. The expansion plans call for upgrading an existing plant in Brisbane to design, engineer, and produce right-hand-drive trucks for world markets. Mack's Australian operations are expected to produce 2,000 units in 2004 -- up from last year's total of about 700. In addition, Mack plans to export 60% of the vehicles represented by that expanded figure.

Mercedes to up Mexican output A $4-million investment to boost truck production in Mexico will be made by the Mercedes-Benz de Mexico S.A. subsidiary of Germany's Daimler-Benz AG. According to Federico Korte, president of the Mexican firm, the funds will be targeted at increasing production from 38 to 55 trucks a day at a Mercedes plant in central Mexico. The company is also deliberating whether to spend $20 million to produce 40 trucks a day on a Freightliner assembly line inside its Monterrey bus factory. If the Monterrey project goes through, employment there could increase from 200 to 1,000 workers. Korte says Mercedes-Benz de Mexico will sell some 7,900 trucks this year, which would increase its market share to 36% from 35% last year. The company forecasts that the total Mexican commercial-vehicle market will increase from 17,747 units in '97 to 22,000 units in '98.

What's in a name ... Having purchased all shares of its Canadian subsidiary, Volvo GM Canada Heavy Truck Corp., from General Motors of Canada, Volvo Trucks North America has established the operation under the name Volvo Trucks Canada Inc. "The only way we can successfully leverage the recognition of the world's largest nameplate in heavy-duty trucks is for it to stand alone," says Marc Gustafson, president & CEO of Volvo Trucks North America. "Our brand-management programs will clearly show North American customers that our products and the Volvo name can be trusted in any country." The Greensboro, N.C.-based firm was itself renamed last year to reflect the increased investment of its Swedish parent, AB Volvo, in its North American truck operations.

All about EVA Attendees at this September's Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium will get to learn about EVA (Economic Value Added), a very hot financial topic. According to the symposium organizers, EVA is the "newest investment romance" among such publicly traded aftermarket firms as Echlin, Federal-Mogul, SPX Corp., and Standard Motor Products. Speaking will be Joel Stern, managing partner of Stern Stewart, which developed and trademarked EVA as a way to measure a company's market value. Also on the EVA panel will be Richard Snell, president & CEO of Federal-Mogul. The symposium is being co-sponsored by several aftermarket trade groups, including APAA, ASIA, MEMA, and SEMA, as well as by TANA (Tire Assn. of North America). The meeting will take place September 9-10 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago. For registration forms, contact ASIA: (Tel.) 847-228-1310; (Fax) 847-228-1510; (E-mail) [email protected]

Blame it on Rio? The government of Brazil is cracking down on the country's infamously reckless drivers. The North American Transportation Alliance says a plethora of new regulations are intended to scare motorists into compliance with DUI, seatbelt, traffic-signal, and pedestrian right-of-way laws by hanging heavy fines over their heads. What's more, drunk drivers may now get smacked with a four-year prison term.

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