Auto glassmakers join forces

Central Glass Co. of Japan is tying up with Compagnie de Saint-Gobain of France to strengthen its global business of making glass for Japanese automakers.

Central Glass, Japan's third biggest glassmaker for automobiles, hopes to boost its competitive edge by bringing together the Japanese company's production sites in Japan, the United States and Asia with Saint-Gobain's in Europe, South America and China, the company said Tuesday.The glass manufacturers plan to work together in joint marketing and research in technologies and product development.They are considering setting up a joint venture by next spring, Central Glass spokesman Hideo Onishi said.

The partnership reflects the growing trend of Japanese automakers expanding production overseas.

The companies' combined production for autoglass, at about 24 percent of the global market, will rank third in the world, behind Asahi Glass Co. and an alliance between Pilkington PLC and Nippon Sheet Glass Co., Onishi said.

Central Glass supplies glass to Japanese automakers Nissan Motor Co., Mazda Motor Corp. (news - web sites), Suzuki Motor Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars. It is hoping to expand its business to other Japanese automakers, Onishi said.

Saint-Gobain fiscal 2001 sales totaled $27 billion. Sales from autoglass operations totaled $4 billion.

Central Glass posted annual sales of $1.4 billion — $262 million in autoglass — for fiscal 2000

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