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Volume 7    Issue 5            September/October 2005

Off the Line
     OEM News from Detroit

Polycarbonate Automotive Glazing Plant Being Built

Peguform Bohemia of the Czech Republic, an international polycarbonate (PC) glazing specialist, and Exatec, the polycarbonate glazing joint venture of Bayer MaterialScience and GE Advanced Materials, have announced an agreement to bring advanced Exatec glazing technology to the global automotive market.

Peguform Bohemia will build a new polycarbonate glazing facility based on Exatec’s glazing system technology, making it the first company to use the glazing technology, including plasma technology to manufacture clear, lightweight and impact-resistant polycarbonate side- and back-lites as well as panoramic roofs for car manufacturers worldwide. Peguform Bohemia, headquartered in Liberec, Czech Republic, will begin construction of its glazing facility this year.

“The market opportunity for PC glazing is huge,” said Pavel Neuman, Peguform Bohemia’s CEO. “Over the past ten years, Peguform Bohemia has expanded aggressively as a highly specialized automotive supplier with a proven record of successfully adopting new technologies. We see the use of Exatec technology in our new cleverGlass® business as a natural extension of this strategy. It is a strategic target of Peguform Bohemia to increase sales by 50 percent over the next five years,” Neuman said. 

“Polycarbonate is about to become a major alternative to glass in future cars,” predicted Exatec CEO Clemens Kaiser. “The introduction of Exatec® 900 glazing technology will open up entirely new construction and design options for automotive manufacturers.”

Exatec’s products combine an enhanced 10-year weathering layer with a glass-like plasma top coat. 

Saint-Gobain to Build Line in Mexico
French-based primary glass manufacturer Saint-Gobain is expanding its presence in the Latin American market through construction of a new float glass production line in Mexico, its second in that country. Production is scheduled to start the end of 2006.

The facility, which will cost approximately $100 million, will be built at the Cuautla, Morelos site in the south of the country, where Saint-Gobain Vitrage already operates a float line and Saint-Gobain Sekurit a plant involved in automotive glass production. 

According to company officials, output from the new facility will be sold in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and the United States. The move was called, “a further step” in the company’s growth strategy in emerging countries.

Saint-Gobain has flat glass operations in 39 countries and has been operating in Mexico since 1996. In addition to the facilities in Cuautla, which also includes a Saint-Gobain Glass operation for producing laminated glass and mirrors, the company has a plant that specialized in glass for home appliances, called Euroveder, in Queretaro.

Saint-Gobain is also present in the distribution of replacement auto glass through its Autover network in Mexico.

Marketing Luxury Vehicles
Luxury car manufacturers are continuing to add items to pamper consumers and to attract customers.

One of the latest luxe items is the back-seat vanity mirror. Available on Mercedes-Benz S-Class models, some Audi A8 models, and the Cadillac DeVille DHS, the mirrors bear a close resemblance to the vanity mirrors in the front of the vehicle on the sun visor. These mirrors, however, are located in the ceiling in front of the rear seats and drop down.

While the mirror generally comes as part of the standard package, it may be included as part of an options package with a price tag of up to $2,000.

Also on the marketing front for luxury vehicles is the credit card rewards program.

In an effort to boost customer loyalty, more luxury-car manufacturers are taking a cue from the airlines and offering credit cards that allow customers to accumulate points. These points can then be exchanged for rebates on car purchases, leases or repairs.

At least 10 car makers are offering such cards in the U.S., according to press reports, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, and Toyota for its Lexus brand. 

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