Marubeni America Corp. has purchased a 15 percent equity stake in VTec Technologies LLC, a growing maker of plastic automotive mirrors.
VTec expects to sell 5 million rearview mirrors in 2007, including its first in North America, said founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeanne Housman.
Privately held VTec supplies exterior mirrors in Europe. Its customers include Ford Motor Co.'s Land Rover unit. Next year's projected growth includes a major Ford program.
Housman declined to say how many mirrors VTec expects to sell in 2006.
VTec of Southfield, Mich., has developed a durable, lightweight mirror made of reflective plastic rather than glass. The company also makes a coating for headlamps that strengthens plastic and keeps the lights from milking in color.
Housman said the patented mirrors offer weight savings, allowing a smaller actuator to be used to move the mirrors.
Projected company sales in 2006 are less than $50 million. VTec produces the mirrors in China and India through joint ventures or contract manufacturing.
Housman declined to detail the terms of the Marubeni investment. As part of the partnership, VTec has agreed to distribute plastic rearview mirrors to Japanese automakers for Marubeni Specialty Chemicals Inc., the chemicals unit of Marubeni.
Marubeni America is the largest overseas subsidiary of Marubeni Corp. of Tokyo, a trading company involved in financing, insurance, chemicals and other products and services.