DETROIT - Walbro Automotive Corp. said it has formed a joint venture to produce plastic fuel tanks in India for PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA and other auto-makers. The firm said in a Jan. 22 announcement it had reached agreement with Mutual Industries Ltd., an injection molder based in Bombay, India, to set up a joint blow molding operation called Mutual-Walbro Ltd.
Walbro, which owns 50 percent of the new company, said it is investing less than $2 million in the project. Construction of a 21,000-square-foot plant is scheduled to begin this month on land owned by Mutual in Pune, India. Production is scheduled to begin by midyear.
Walbro will install used blow-molding machinery at the new plant to make single-layer fuel tanks at an initial annual production rate of about 30,000 units, spokesman Dan Hittler said.
Peugeot is buying the tanks for the Premier 309 subcompact that it is building in India in partnership with Premier Automo-biles Ltd. of Bombay.
Peugeot, eager to find a local source for parts in India, was responsible for introducing Walbro and Mutual and encouraged a joint operation.
Walbro hopes to position the Pune operation as a prime source of fuel tanks as more U.S., European and Asian automakers open assembly operations in the rapidly developing Indian market.
``We're in regular talks with all three of the U.S. [original equipment manufacturers] for business in North America and international markets,'' Hittler said.
He said the venture also had good potential to develop beyond the initial run of fuel tanks.
The Pune plant, Walbro's first fuel tank plant in Asia and its ninth overall, will be equipped to mold, assemble and test fuel tanks. It also could make other blow molded parts.
Walbro of Auburn Hills, Mich., is in the midst of a $45 million worldwide program to boost production of its six-layer fuel tank products.