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Tenneco Eyes China's Automobile Market
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Tenneco Inc, a US-based auto parts supplier, plans to invest US$51million over the next three years in China, where an auto industry boom is expected.


"The investment is about responding to our customers' need for their Chinese production," said Mark Frissora, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Tenneco. "One of Tenneco's key growth strategies is to expand in emerging markets and China is our greatest opportunity in this area."


The NASDAQ-listed company will use part of the investment to open a wholly owned rubber manufacturing plant this June in Suzhou, a city of East China's Jiangsu Province.


It will also set up a new engineering center in Shanghai as a joint venture to develop automotive exhaust products for its growing customer base in China.


The center, slated to open at the end of this year, will provide engineering resources to support Tenneco's equipment and aftermarket customers. Shanghai Tractor and Engine Company, a subsidiary of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, also has a stake in the venture.


Tenneco will use the centre to meet the demand of domestic automakers, which are eager to expand overseas, said Timothy Jackson, general Manager of Tenneco Asia Pacific.


"Vehicle sales in China continue to grow rapidly and as the fleet begins to age, we expect the aftermarket to take off. These trends represent great potential for Tenneco," said Frissora.


Tenneco operates five joint ventures in China that produce mufflers, shock absorbers and ride control modules.


According to its own estimates, it is the nation's No 1 supplier of exhaust systems.


The company reaped US$41 million in revenue from its operations in Asia last year, a 30 percent increase year-on-year.


Meanwhile, China accounts for 31 percent of the company's revenue growth.


By 2015, the amount of vehicle production in China is estimated to catch up with the US automotive market, and Tenneco expects its sales revenue in China to maintain a 9 percent growth rate for the next four years.


China's auto exports totaled 170,000 vehicles in 2005, up 120.5 percent, and overtook annual imports for the first time.


Chinese based-companies currently export vehicles mainly to developing nations in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.


(China Daily March 1, 2006)


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