set for reorganization In a streamlining move, Visteon Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Johnston says the supplier will announce a new business structure by the end of this month and look for possible tie-ups or sales for a $2.5 billion chunk of its annual sales. Visteon is "talking with a number of firms, and we will get out of the glass business," Mr. Johnston says. It also is discussing "mutually beneficial alternatives" with several companies for its seat and steering businesses. Visteon technologies Mr. Johnston considers core are climate control, cockpit, fuel delivery and telematics/electronics. Visteon's decision to sell its glass business comes just two months after discussions ended with Pilkington plc involving a glass business joint venture. In fourth quarter 2000, Visteon earned $270 million, down from $735 million in 1999.
Moving fast in a slow market Covisint will become a reality, according to an industry study by the Economic Intelligence Unit and KPMG Consulting LLC. But don't expect it in the short term, says KPMG analyst Brian Ambrose. The e-business study does not paint a pretty picture of the auto industry's technological progress. The study says, unlike in the electronics and communications industries, e-business strategies and plans such as Covisint are not well-understood by top automotive executives and therefore are not highly prioritized. "The largest manufacturers have not clearly defined a cohesive strategy for executing Web-based procurement," Mr. Ambrose says. The study points to survey respondents who voiced concerns that cost savings from e-business are exaggerated. Many didn't see real progress for three to five years. His bottom line on e-commerce: "It's a wise investment."
CCS students move to head of the glass PPG Industries, North America's leading automotive glass producer, wanted to recognize the talents of the next generation of automotive designers, so it sponsored a competition for students at Detroit's Center for Creative Studies' College of Art and Design. This year's winner of the PPG Design Challenge Awards was Herain Patel, 21, of Kennesaw, GA, whose entry was a cross between a car and pickup truck, good for a $1,500 scholarship. The entry, incidentally, had a lot more glass than the others. Earning second place was Addam Ebel, 28, of South Bend, IN; and third place winner was Thamer Hannona, 21, of Warren, MI. PPG's nifty awards for the students, handed out at a North American International Auto Show event, were made of PPG's ultraclear Starphire glass.
Around the Industry * Private equity firm Palladium Equity Partners LLC will sell Guide Corp., the largest U.S. producer of vehicle headlights and turn signals, to Vehicle Lighting Inc. Former Guide Chairman and Chief Executive Dennis Pawley resigned in December, accusingCorp. of squeezing prices to unreasonable levels.
* GM contracts SKF Automotive to supply wheel bearings for its new segment C platform, the replacement for the current Opel Astra, that starts production in Europe in model year '05.
* SmarTire Systems Inc. andInc. sign a deal that transfers to SmarTire licensing rights to sell tire-monitoring systems to the original equipment manufacturers of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. In exchange, TRW will receive 450,000 shares of SmarTire common stock. SmarTire says the agreement paves the way for it to enter the commercial vehicle market in 2001.
* IBM Automotive launches a new "e-sourcing" option for suppliers and automakers enabling them to lease business applications over the Internet. Pricing for IBMPlaces.ihost.com is targeted to be dramatically below current software application pricing, and IBM says it will be especially helpful for smaller suppliers who have found it difficult and expensive to adopt leading-edge information technology. Partners in the new system include Synapz, IQS and Lotus Development Corp. The companies say the system will complement related auto industry exchanges.