PARIS - Japanese supplier Aisin AW is considering an automatic transmission plant in Europe. The company, which is controlled by Toyota, expects European sales of automatic transmissions to nearly double by 2000.
'We think that the automatic transmission installation rate in Europe will jump from 6.5 percent today to 12 percent in 2000 and to 20 percent in 2005,' said Frank De Schepper, technical development manager of Aisin AW Europe in Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium.
He said demand has increased because of changing customer tastes, dealer attitudes and strategies for production and sales at the automakers.
De Schepper refused to confirm plans for a plant. An assembly plant would cost several hundred million dollars.
However, Aisin AW Europe will open a $7 million reconditioning shop for used transmissions at Ghlin, Belgium, in July 1998. The plant will employ 20.
'We are doing this to test our quality level,' says De Schepper.
The reconditioning shop would provide a useful base for finding partsmakers who could meet Aisin's quality standards.
Aisin bought the 35-hectare Ghlin site in 1990 with the intent to build a transmission plant. It later shelved the plan.
In Braine-l'Alleud, Aisin assembles electronic control units for automatic transmissions sold in Europe. Aisin customers include Fiat's Bravo-Brava and Marea; Lancia's Kappa; Volvo's S40 and S90; Renault's Safrane; all Opels except the Omega; and all Saabs.