General Motors Corp. gets a big assist from German supplier Kolbenschmidt Pierburg AG in manufacturing a key powertrain component for the new 2002 Saturn Vue, which goes on sale in the coming weeks.

GM joint venture Fiat-GM Powertrain produces the 3L 54-degree V-6 engine for the Vue at its plant in Ellesmere Port, U.K., and it's an important engine because it powers the Saturn L-Series, Cadillac Catera, Saab 9-5 and Opel Omega and Vectra models, in addition to a modified 3.2L version for the upcoming Cadillac CTS. Not bad for an engine that was thought to be nearing the end of production.

For the Vue, GM realized it was devoting significant resources to assemble the air intake system for the engine. So Kolbenschmidt Pierburg has a contract to engineer and assemble for the Vue an integrated air-fuel module (IAFM), a systems approach that in recent years has become popular with many automakers.

In Germany, KP will build the magnesium manifold and integrate the fuel injectors into the finished module. Robert Bosch GmbH supplies the fuel injectors, but KP, a company that once was one of Europe's top carburetor producers, provided engineering for the fuel rail, says Wolfgang Reuter, managing director of KP's air supply and pumps division.

The module also includes throttle body, actuators, wiring harness and hoses. In all, about 35 suppliers produce parts for the module. GM wants to source more intake systems this way from suppliers, Mr. Reuter says.

KP does not currently produce fuel injection systems. Will the company want to if it wins more IAFM contracts in the future? Mr. Reuter says the company is not interested in the fuel-injection market, already dominated by Bosch, Delphi Automotive Systems Corp., Denso Corp., Magneti Marelli SpA, Siemens VDO Automotive and Visteon Corp. The initial investment to enter the market, he says, would be tremendous.

Kolbenschmidt Pierburg considered the Lucas diesel fuel injection business — and made an offer — when TRW put it up for sale two years ago, but Mr. Reuter says the price was too high. Ultimately, Delphi acquired the Lucas diesel business, a move that has landed the No. 1 global supplier significant new business, primarily in Europe.