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TRW development plans on hold until September

TRW Automotive's European aftermarket division is to clarify future development plans at September's Automechanika in the wake of its US parent company's sale to rival Northrop Grumman Corporation, maker of the Stealth bomber.

Potential buyer BAE Systems said it was not interested in TRW's automotive business and that left it clear for Northrop to seal a $7.8bn (£5.12bn) deal, creating one of the world's biggest military systems contractors and ending four months of defensive footwork by TRW against predatory Northrop bids.

At the onset of Northrop's bid hostility earlier in the year, TRW's chairman Philip Odeen suggested the automotive division could be separated from the defence, aerospace and information technology arms. As reported in AutoTrade (April, 2002), Odeen said the auto business could become an appropriately capitalised, independent, publicly traded company within nine months.

But the company's European aftermarket strategy is understood to have been signed off long before the sale announcement. Sources say details of a progressive launch of an enhanced steering and suspension programme linked to the TRW brand will be revealed at the Frankfurt Show. Until October this year, TRW is tied into a licence agreement with Federal-Mogul for the use of the TRW brand in connection with steering and suspension in the aftermarket.

TRW is also expected to reaffirm commitment to its Lucas branded braking and electrical programmes by announcing major investment plans.

“It is our strategy is to support two product brands in the aftermarket - Lucas for braking and electrical, and TRW for steering and suspension,” says Richard Halstead, TRW's UK operations director

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