Tenneco has opened its first research and development centre in China.

The engineering centre – a joint venture with Shanghai Tractor and Engine Company (STEC), a subsidiary of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC — will focus on emission control product design and development for Tenneco’s growing OE and aftermarket businesses in China and the Asia-Pacific region.

The centre will has emission control testing capabilities – including acoustic tuning; noise, vibration and harshness/structural analysis; durability testing; engine vibration durability and diesel aftertreatment design – and, Tenneco claims, sets a new standard for emission control engineering centres in the region.

“Our new engineering centre enables us to locally support our customers with technical expertise, engineering and testing while saving time and costs and strengthening communications,” said Gregg Sherrill, Tenneco chairman and CEO.  “Additionally, we’ll be able to localise global programmes more efficiently and meet our customers’ needs for a greater range of products and technologies.”

The 5,800-square metre centre, located adjacent to the company’s Shanghai joint venture emission control manufacturing facility, is the first of a three-phase project. The initial phase provides key testing and development capabilities critical to after-treatment engineering. Phases two and three, scheduled for completion by 2010, will provide additional test labs and emission quality capabilities.

Staffing for the new emission control engineering centre includes 23 employees currently. “Led by our highly-trained engineers, the centre is our premiere R&D facility in Asia and represents our commitment to the China market,” said Sherrill. “Tenneco is well-positioned to take advantage of the growth opportunities in China and the Asia Pacific region as emissions standards tighten and OEMs work to achieve better fuel economy.”

Tenneco established its first joint venture in China in 1995 and, the company estimates, is China’s number one supplier of exhaust systems to original equipment manufacturers. The company operates five majority-owned joint ventures in China including emission control operations in Shanghai, Dalian (two joint ventures with Jit facilities in Changchun) and Chongqing. Tenneco’s ride control joint venture is in Beijing and its wholly-owned elastomer operation is in Suzhou.

Volkswagen (SVW), General Motors (SGM), Chery, Psa (DPCA), Daimler Chrysler (Beijing Jeep), Suzuki, Nissan, Audi (FAW-VW) and Ford are among the company’s OE customers.