Solvay SA is forming a plastics auto parts joint venture in Buenos Aires to supply Argen-tina's growing automotive market. The venture, Solvay Automo-tive Argentina, was formed with Industrias Montich srl, a major local manufacturer of metal fuel tanks and transformers.
The new company will make high density polyethylene fuel tanks, filler pipes and other blow and injection molded vehicle parts. Solvay will hold a 60 percent stake in the new enterprise; its partner will own the remaining share.
Solvay said that the firm will supply customers such as Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes Benz, Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen in Argentina with ``reliable, locally manufactured parts.''
Solvay did not reveal how much it is sinking in its first project in Argentina's automotive industry, but described it as a small investment.
The first stage of the new plant will start operating early next year while the second stage will commence in mid-1998, according to Solvay. The plant ultimately will employ 80.
Solvay SA spokesman Paul Muys was unable to give details of the number or make of molding equipment to be installed in the Argentine unit. But he did say that equipment and know-how would come mainly from the Grenay, France, plant of Solvay Automotive France. Solvay claims to be the world's top producer of plastic fuel systems.
SAA will use an estimated 2.2 million pounds of HDPE resin annually beginning in 1999, Muys said in a telephone interview from Solvay's Brussels, Belgium, headquarters. The resin will come from affiliate Solvay do Brasil.
Solvay has been active on the acquisition and investment front in recent months. The company just acquired leading Argentine PVC producer Indupa SA.
On the automotive front, Solvay also recently announced joint ventures in China and Italy, and an acquisition in Germany. The Belgian group also plans a new parts plant in San Luis Potos, Mexico.
In October, Solvay invested US$6 million to set up a joint venture in Changzhou, China, to produce its Wood-Stock polypropylene car interior panels for the fast-growing local auto industry. Solvay holds a 51 percent share.
Called Changzhou Wood-Stock Ltd. Co., it was formed by the group's Asian subsidiary Solvay Asia-Pacific of Singapore and its Italian firm GOR Applicazioni Speciali, which developed the panels, with Chinese partners. These are Changzhou General Plastic Plating Factory and China Automotive Industry Internation-al Corp.
In March, Solvay continued its expansion with its acquisition of Helphos, a molding subsidiary of Deutsche Linoleum Werke, at Bad Harzburg, Germany. The unit, now called Solvay Automotive GmbH, injection and blow molds plastic components including fuel inlet filler pipes, fuel caps, fuel delivery parts, screen wash systems, and air and fuel induction modules, according to the group.
Solvay reported group 1995 sales of $9.3 billion, while Industrias Montich of C¢rdoba, Argentina, achieved sales of $68 million.