GKN has teamed up with car giant Toyota to supply constant velocity joints to Japan.
The new company, GKN Toyoda Driveshafts, will make an estimated one million vehicle sets a year by 2004. It will concentrate initially on constant velocity joints, composite propeller shafts and monobloc tubular interconnecting shafts.
Seven million cars with such components are produced in Japan every year, mostly supplied by in-house manufacturers and local producers, including NTN Corp. GKN’s Toyota tie-up would be a direct assault on NTN’s home market.
A GKN spokeswoman described the deal as strategically important but said it would not lead to construction immediately of factories in Japan. ‘Eventually we plan to set up a plant on the coast between Osaka and Tokyo. But before this, production will be handled by Toyota’s existing joints plant.’
Toyota’s Toyoda Machine Works subsidiary already makes constant velocity joints and related products for the Japanese car giant, but the GKN joint-venture will now be able to bid for work from other car makers.
GKN will hold a 49% stake in the company, while Toyoda will own the balance.
GKN’s other joint venture in Japan is a viscous couplings business that makes differentials. This 51%-owned company was set up in partnership with Tochigi Fuji Sangyo in 1985.