While much of the auto industry is retrenching, Magna International Inc. is forging ahead by establishing five “super groups” and boldly forecasting significant growth for 2001.

The Ontario-based parts giant says it is consolidating its interior systems manufacturing operations under Magna Interiors, which will seek to establish itself as a global interior systems integrator and supplier of seats, closure systems and instrument and trim panels.

It joins exterior component supplier Decoma, vehicle assembly unit Magna Steyr, hydroforming and stamping specialist Cosma and engine, fuel system and transmission supplier Tesma to make up the five super groups. Magna says that when the timing is right it will launch public offerings for Magna Interiors and Magna Steyr.

Former Magna President and Chief Executive Donald Walker will lead Magna Interiors, while Belinda Stronach, daughter of Magna founder and Chairman Frank Stronach, becomes the parent company's CEO and vice-chairman.

Ward's Supplier Index
2/22/2001 % Chg.
Prev. Week
% Chg.
Yr. to Date
Ward's Index 81.7 -5.6 -2.5
DaimlerChrysler 50.0 -0.6 11.6
Ford 27.5 -1.7 2.1
GM 52.1 -5.6 -8.8
S&P 500 1,252.8 -5.6 -6.0
Note: This index is a weighted average with a 100-point base figured from 1/2/97. For details see Jan. 22, '01 insert.
Source: Ward's.

Revealing plans for capital expenditures of $675 million in 2000, Magna says it expects its North American per-vehicle content to grow more than 12%. As for the status of Magna's plans to assemble niche vehicles for automakers in North America, a spokesman says: “It's still being worked on.”

In other supplier news: Firestone Corp. recalls about 98,500 tires, mainly on Nissan Altima sedans. Firestone says an analysis revealed a surface crack at the edge of the tire tread. Separately, General Motors Corp. reportedly plans to switch to Bridgestone tires from Firestone on some of its '02 models beginning this summer. Federal-Mogul Corp.'s Italian subsidiary inks a deal with Nagares SA to supply auto manufacturers with timer/glow plugs for use with diesel engines. American Axle & Mfg. Holdings Inc. says it will issue profit-sharing payments averaging $2,193.12 to eligible U.S. employees. AVL Powertrain Engineering Inc. will open a 41,000-sq.-ft. facility in Ann Arbor, MI, in early 2002. The plant, AVL's second in North America, will have powertrain durability and validation test operations, as well as light duty vehicle emissions testing. Dana Corp.'s Spicer Light Axle Group will supply rear axle assemblies to Delphi Saginaw Steering Systems as part of the Quadrasteer 4-wheel steering system to be used on '02 GM trucks. Williams Controls Inc. says it will pursue an “aggressive timetable” for the sale of the company or its operating subsidiaries. Continental AG will initiate the sale of major parts of its ContiTech group but retain two units, Air Spring Systems and Vibration Control. Eagle-Picher Automotive's Hillsdale Div. win a contract for its EPTEC plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, to manufacture 2.5 million connecting rods annually for GKN Automotive in Mexico beginning 2001.

The Ward's Supplier Index fell 5.6% for the week ending Feb. 22, on par with the Standard & Poor's 500. Of the 65 companies tracked, nine gained. New companies added to the Index include Clarcor Inc., Westcast Industries Inc., Stoneridge Inc., Tesma International Inc., DESC S.A. de C.V. and Hastings Mfg. Co.