Mannesmann Sachs AG, one of Europe's largest clutch manufacturers, expects its torque-converter business to grow to compensate for a decline in manual-transmission business in Europe over the next few years.
Chairman Harold Klotzbach said automatic transmissions are expected to account for 25 percent of the European market in 2003, compared with under 20 percent today.
In 1998, Schweinfurt, Germany-based Mannesmann Sachs acquired Borg Warner's torque-converter business in Michigan, USA, and in 1999 the group invested $45 million in a new torque-converter facility in Mexico with an annual capacity of 700,000 units.
Klotzbach said that overall Sachs saw a slight decline in its automotive orders in the first four months of 1999 which he attributed in part to weaker markets in Mercosur, Eastern Europe and Asia.
However, Klotzbach said: 'We have more favorable signs for the rest of the year.' In 1998, Mannesmann Sachs had profits of euro 147 million on sales of euro 2.15 billion. The group has 52 sites in 18 countries.
Plans to launch new brand: Mannesmann Sachs announced it will use a new brand, VDO Dayton, for in-car information, navigation and communication systems produced by the Philips Car Systems business it acquired last year.