TRW Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer David M. Cote spices up his first major automotive media event with a dash of brutal honesty: "We just make too much stuff."

Mr. Cote, who addressed reporters at March's Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, has been at the helm of TRW's automotive operations for a mere four months and already is delivering a message of streamlining operations and increasing profitability. Enhancing shareholder value is a top priority for the former General Electric Corp. senior vice president.

Mr. Cote particularly is focused on sharpening purchasing procedures, reducing capital expenditures and forging ahead in "smart" vehicle technology. He says TRW needs to analyze its product line plant-by-plant to determine which products "add value" and which need to be cut. He hints at outsourcing possibilities for some of TRW's suppliers.

But Mr. Cote's message isn't entirely about retreat. He also announces a new 50-50 joint venture with Canadian-based Linamar Corp. to design and manufacture cylinder heads for a soon-to-be-announced automaker. The venture, to be based in Guelph, Ont., integrates Linamar's machining specialty with TRW's extensive valvetrain capabilities.