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DELPHI PLANT GETS TOYOTA CONTRACT

Delphi Corp. is expanding its role as a supplier to Toyota, and its Lockport plant has picked up some of the new work, the company announced Wednesday.

Toyota chose Delphi to make the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems for its new Tacoma pickup truck, an important win for the component supplier, Delphi said.

Delphi had previously won contracts to make engine-cooling components for the compact pickup.

The expansion of Delphi's supplier role on the Tacoma marks its first HVAC system for a Toyota vehicle.

"Toyota demands the very best of its suppliers and it is a customer with which we're eager to grow," Thermal & Interior president Ronald M. Pirtle said in a statement.

Lockport contributes heater cores for the 2005 Tacoma's HVAC system, Delphi spokesman Doug Hoy said. The HVAC modules are assembled in Mexico, with parts from several Delphi plants in North America.

Production on the contract ramped up in recent months, supporting existing jobs but not adding new ones at Lockport.

The Tacoma is assembled at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. facility in Fremont, Calif., a joint venture with General Motors.

The redesigned compact pickup went on sale at dealerships in October, with sticker prices ranging from $13,415 to $25,250 depending on configuration. Toyota sold 130,221 Tacomas in the first 10 months of the year.

A Toyota spokesman confirmed that Delphi won the work but wouldn't comment further. Decisions on suppliers are kept confidential, spokesman Dan Sieger said.

Spun-off from GM in 1999, Delphi is pushing to expand its base of business beyond its ex-parent, the source of 55 percent of sales.

Last week, the Lockport plant signed an agreement with autoworkers giving the plant engine-cooling components for GM's next-generation full-size pickup trucks, an important product renewal. Nearly half the plant's output goes into GM's current trucks, according to United Auto Workers officials.

The Lockport plant will also "insource" assembly work on parts for the Chevy Malibu and Pontiac Grand Prix from contractor Viking Lockport, costing about 80 autoworker jobs at the contractor, UAW Buffalo Area Director Kevin Donovan said.

The union won provisions for the affected Viking workers to follow the work to Delphi as openings become available, he said.

"The company decided to bring that work back," he said of Delphi. "We told them the people have to follow the jobs."

UAW Local 686 represents workers at both Delphi and Viking.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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