Volvo breaks ground in India for FH plant. AB Volvo of Sweden is reportedly building a $300-million truck plant near Bangalore in southern India. The facility would be the first operated by a foreign truck maker in the subcontinent. Plans call for annually producing approximately 4,000 of Volvo's top-of-the-line FH Series longhaul trucks, all earmarked for local use. According to Volvo president Soren Gyll, the trucks will increase India's transportation capacity without increasing the number of vehicles on the roads. If met, sales projections would give Volvo 20% of the market. Current demand for trucks there runs about 20,000 units annually. Volvo will compete primarily with the country's two dominant makes, Ashok Leyland and Telco (Tata Engineering & Locomotive Co.).

Nissan plans Tennessee plant. Japan's Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will establish a plant in Smyrna, Tenn., to supply suspension parts to Nissan Motor Mfg. Corp. USA's Smyrna manufacturing operations at less cost than importing them from Japan. Production is slated to begin this summer. A Nissan affiliate, Rhythm Corp., will kick in 70% of the $3-million capital needed for the plant, with the remaining 30% coming from two other affiliate operations. Sharing the investment risk, according to Nissan, provides for potentially selling parts to the Big 3 U.S. automakers as well.

Czech OEM to build trucks in Brazil. Skoda Automobilova, a Volkswagen AG subsidiary based in The Czech Republic, is expected to establish two truck plants worth $300 million in Brazil. A facility at Santa Catarina in southern Brazil would build heavy trucks while heavy mining vehicles would come out of a plant in the northeast.

Toyota to sidestep Korean import ban. Despite the Republic of Korea's ban on imports of Japanese cars, Toyota Motor Corp. plans to keep shipping U.S.-made cars there. Since last year, Toyota has sold over 300 American-made Avalon sedans in South Korea through arrangements with a local trading firm and a car importer. The OEM is reportedly so satisfied it wants to extend its contracts with the two partners another year. It may also be launching its own sales subsidiary in anticipation of the import ban being lifted by 2000.

Scania reports rise in order intake. Thanks to a rising order intake for its plants in Europe, Swedish truck maker Scania AB is hiring 500 temporary workers. "We need to see a longer period before we can say whether the rise is the start of a long and lasting trend," said Scania communications manager Thomas Skoglund. He noted that is why the OEM is only hiring the new workers temporarily at this point. About half the temps will be employed at plants in Sweden. Scania, which ranks as the world's fifth-largest heavy-truck maker, operates plants in seven countries.

Ryder to manage Wedgwood distribution. Ryder Plc, the British subsidiary of Miami-based Ryder System Inc., will manage the worldwide distribution operations of Wedgwood, a leading manufacturer of premium gifts. The agreement is worth $16.4 million per year. "We chose Ryder because of their unrivaled reputation in this specialty field," said Wedgwood CEO Brian Patterson. "Wedgwood exports to 80 countries and the management of our supply chain is crucial to our worldwide competitiveness." Warehousing and distribution will be consolidated through a Ryder-operated center near Wedgwood's manufacturing facilities in Britain.

Orbcomm links up with Japan. U.S.-based Orbcomm, which operates a global satellite-based communications system, has signed a service-license agreement with a Japanese firm, Orbcomm Japan Limited of Tokyo. The newly formed licensee is owned by several companies, including Matsushita Electric Co. Ltd. According to Orbcomm, the agreement ties the world's second-largest economy into its global mobile-communications network.

Menlo Logistics chief speaks on Asia. Keynoting a recent conference, James H. McAdam, director of international operations for Redwood City, Calif.-based Menlo Logistics, discussed the importance of Asian-Pacific markets to U.S. business. He said the economy of the region, excluding Japan, is growing by 8.5% a year -- but the market for U.S. goods and services is expanding in double digits. McAdam predicted that within 20 years, Asia will be home to five of the world's six largest economies. He said the region holds "tremendous promise," especially for U.S.-based exporters willing to customize their logistics networks. "Very few companies that I have worked with in the Far East," McAdam noted, "have a complete understanding of what their customers really want in terms of product delivery." He warned that letting inefficient logistics stand may make American products uncompetitive in major Asian markets. To cut the cost of logistics, McAdam advised centralizing decision-making while identifying the unique needs of each country. "You make or break a distribution channel by understanding those key customer requirements up front," he stated.

Parker's seventh Mexican plant. Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin Corp. has acquired Mexico's Hydroflex S.A. de C.V., a manufacturer of hydraulic hose, fittings, and adapters. Located in Toluca, near Mexico City, Hydroflex reported 1996 sales of about $11 million and employment of 400. With the Hydroflex addition, Parker Hannifin now owns seven manufacturing operations in Mexico, including Toluca-based Parker Fluid Connectors de Mexico. "We have found Mexico to be a growth market for our products and a good place for manufacturing," said Jack Myslenski, vp-operations of Parker Fluid Connectors Group. "We expect Hydroflex will achieve valuable synergies as it works with a number of other Parker operations."