Haartz Corp. is entering a joint venture with Minth Group Ltd. to address a growing automotive market in China.
The JV, Haartz-Minth (Ningbo) Automotive Ltd., will manufacture thermoplastic olefin automotive interior surface materials using extrusion technology from Haartz. It will be located near Ningbo to take advantage of existing resources of the Minth Group's Taiyong facility.
“We were the first to install TPO extrusion and now we're completing a plan to be among the pioneers in China,” said John Fox, president of Acton, Mass.-based Haartz, in a telephone interview.
Haartz is a leading supplier of soft-trim materials for the automotive interiors market, serving many of the world's largest automakers and Tier 1 suppliers.
Included in the joint venture is the Haartz product line of moldable surface materials for interior components including door panels, instrument panels, and center consoles. These are based on TPO surface technologies to reduce weight and volatile organic compound emissions.
Minth Group was established in 1992 and is a leading supplier of structural parts, trim and decorative parts for passenger vehicles. It is publicly listed on the Hong Kong Exchange. The company has 46 facilities in China, as well as nine more worldwide.
Assuming timely approval of all permits and registration, production is scheduled to start in the second half of 2017.
Fox said Haartz has had a presence in China since 2011. It maintains warehouses and offices in Shanghai and Chongqing. He sees a growing automotive market in China, especially in the luxury segment.
“This in no way replaces capacity in the U.S. but is intended to serve the fast growing market in China,” he added.
Fox said that Haartz is privately owned and does not discuss sales, but “has spent over $50 million in the last four to five years in Acton.”
The company does most of its manufacturing in Acton. It also has manufacturing operations in Mannheim, Germany, and plans for operations in Pune, India, ready when the market expands there.
Haartz, which has more than 500 employees, also has offices in Detroit, Munich, Tokyo and Irapuato, Mexico.