Denso International America names a new president, Haruya Maruyama, effective April 1.

He replaces Mitsuo “Matt” Matsushita, who retired Dec. 31 as president and CEO of the Japanese supplier’s North American operations, based in Southfield, MI. Matsushita spent 36 years at Denso, becoming head of DIAM in July 2004.

Until April 1, the interim chief is Kenji Ohya, senior managing director and a member of Denso Corp.’s board of directors.

Maruyama is a managing officer of Denso and serves currently as president of Denso Automotive Deutschland GmbH, the supplier’s sales and engineering company in Eching, Germany. He has held the post since 2002.

Maruyama began his career in Denso’s Tokyo sales office in 1978. While in Germany, he became a managing officer responsible for all sales activities throughout Europe. He led Denso’s expanded sales of air conditioners and diesel fuel-injection systems in Europe.

“This is a challenging time in the automotive industry in North America and

around the world,” Maruyama says in a statement. “As president and CEO of DIAM, my goal is to help Denso become the most trusted systems and component manufacturer to our customers.”

Denso says Maruyama’s arrival in the U.S. is part of the company’s typical changing of the guard, which generally occurs every three to five years.

While the European automotive-parts sector is highly competitive and challenging, Maruyama is bound to find the supplier economics in the U.S. to be even more distressed.

Extreme pricing pressure, expensive gasoline, volatile raw-material costs and shrinking vehicle-production volumes have left parts producers – even some transplants – gasping for breath.

Denso has fared better than most. In North, Central and South America, the supplier has increased production volume to support its Japanese customers (primarily Toyota Motor Corp., which owns 24.8% of Denso). The supplier also has boosted sales to General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

Denso is one of the world’s largest suppliers, forecasting $2 billion in income (up 11% from 2006) and $34.5 billion in sales (up 9.4% from 2006) for the fiscal year that ends March 31.

In the Americas, the supplier employs more than 17,000 people and tallied $6.5 billion in sales in 2007. Denso’s operating income in the region for the last three quarters of 2007 was $80.2 million, an increase of 64.4% from the previous year.

At the recent North American International Auto Show, Denso discussed its collision-avoidance technologies, such as adaptive cruise control, millimeter-wave radar and Dedicated Short Range Communications for car-to-car wireless links.