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It looks like Magna Steyr is hunting for a plant in the US. This article was taken from the Car Connection.

It doesn't say anything directly about the G-class, but are subtle hints that perhaps the W463 will continue being built as a civilian model. The article begins here (the underlining emphasis is mine):
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Magna Steyr Hunting for U.S. Plant

Magna Steyr is ready to bring its vehicle assembly business to North America soon.

Manfred Remmel, Magna Steyr president and chief executive officer, said during a recent interview that the company's long-term strategy calls for utilizing the expertise developed as a contract assembler in Europe in North America as well. In fact, Magna Steyr reorganized its North American business at the beginning of the year to prepare for the day it assembles vehicles in the U.S., even though it doesn't have any signed contracts or a factory yet, said August Hofbauer, the executive vice president in charge of Magna Steyr North America.

Remmel said that Magna Steyr is hopeful that it will have contract with an automaker in place before the end of the year. Once that happens, Magna Steyr will move quickly to set up operations in the United States or Canada, he said.

Magna Steyr's preliminary plans for operating in the U.S. will require customer orders for around 150,000 units, he added. However, the volume requirement should not prove too difficult to meet if Magna Steyr can serve multiple customers in North America just as it does in Europe.

The Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria, now builds vehicles for DaimlerChrysler, BMW, and General Motors, Remmel noted, and a similar mix of projects would make a contract plant in the U.S. feasible.

Remmel added the steady decline in the value of the U.S. dollar has made European manufacturers more receptive to the idea of using Magna Steyr services to build vehicles in the United States. The decline in the value of the dollar has made European-made vehicles more expensive in the United States.

Consequently, German manufacturers of vehicles such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi are now reviewing their production plans and could decide within the next six months on whether to go ahead with plans for production in the United States through Magna Steyr. "They have to make some long-term decisions," Remmel said.

Making its case

Meanwhile, Magna Steyr is refining its case for using its contract services. Even Volkswagen is considering Magna Steyr services, he said. Remmel added the Magna Steyr is looking at several different scenarios for opening a plant in North America, including taking over an existing factory from another manufacturer or building a new plant from the ground up.

Remmel also said Magna Steyr production more than doubled in 2004 to almost 226,000 units, which boosted both its revenues and profitability significantly. Magna Steyr now builds vehicles on six platforms for five brands at a sprawling assembly and engineering center in Graz, which is also sometimes called the Detroit of the Alps, Remmel said. In addition, Magna Steyr is scheduled to begin building the European version of the Chrysler 300C for DaimlerChrysler later this year. The start of the production last spring of the BMW X3 in Graz was a significant milestone for Magna Steyr, added Remmel. "It was the first time BMW had entrusted a supplier with the development of a complete vehicle," he said. "We are ready to do the same in North America," he added.

Hofbauer added that the Magna Steyr engineering center in Rochester Hills, Michigan, now handles work for the Big Three and European and Asian carmakers that now have manufacturing operations in the United States. The engineering center in Michigan now has about 180 employees and is linked electronically to other Magna Steyr engineering centers in Europe, he said.
 

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watch out for Magna

Magna Completes Purchase of New Venture Gear
Canadian auto parts supplier Magna International Inc., based in Aurora, Ontario, has completed its acquisition of Syracuse, NY-based New Venture Gear, formerly a wholly-owned subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler Corp.

The transaction involves the creation of a new joint venture which will be known as New Venture Gear. The new company will be owned 80% by Magna and 20% by DaimlerChrysler. The agreement has Magna scheduled to acquire the remaining portion from DaimlerChrysler in 2007.

The transaction includes New Venture Gear's manufacturing facility in Syracuse, NY, its R&D center and sales offices in Troy, MI,and a manufacturing facility in Roitzsch, Germany.

In a press release, Frank Stronach, Magna's chairman and interim CEO, said, "We are pleased to complete this important transaction and welcome more than 3,800 new employees, including more than 3,500 in Syracuse, NY, to the Magna family. We also appreciate the cooperation we receuved from local and state officials in New York. With a strong manufacturing and development presence in Syracuse and in Europe, excellent technologies and a skilled and motivated workforce, we have a strong base on which to grow our drivetrain business in the coming years."

Magna has approximately 81,000 employees in 217 manufacturing operations and 49 product development and engineering centers in 22 countries.
 

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New Venture used to be New Process and has been building transmissions and transfer cases for most American cars and trucks. Used to be a GM and Chrysler joint venture. Fell to DC with the aquisition of Chrysler. DC sold rhe majority to Magna.
Finally American will get transmissions that last.

On the money front:
Magna - 4Q in-line; difficult '05 expected (Lache/Heifler)Magna (N-MGA-$73.95-B) reported 4Q EPS of $1.81, ahead of our $1.75 estimate and consensus. The results are in-line with expectations, with the variance being mostly a favorable tax rate. Excluding a one-time impairment charge, we believe the company earned $1.98 per share. Investor focus will likely be on the outlook for 2005. On that front, Magna is
lowering guidance for revenue due to downwardly revised North American production assumptions and weaker mix. Importantly, Magna still believes it can grow earnings in 2005, which is impressive in the context of the production environment. With approximately 45% of its global revenue tied to GM (N-GM-$35.65-H) and Ford (N-F-$12.65-S), a weaker revenue outlook is not surprising. We acknowledged the challenges facing suppliers who are tied to the Big Three last December when we downgraded the group. Nonetheless, we believe the outlook improves markedly beyond 2005, and the risk/reward profile remains compelling.

Harald
 
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