Delphi Automotive Systems (NYSE: DPH - news) and Ashimori Industry Co., Ltd. (Osaka Stock Exchange: 1st Section 3526) have formed a joint venture agreement to pursue seat belt business in the United States and other global seat belt markets. In the joint venture, majority owner Delphi holds 51 percent, Ashimori holds 49 percent.

Under the terms of the agreement, the new joint venture, named Delphi Automotive Systems - Ashimori LLC, will focus on new and existing opportunities in the North American, South American and European seat belt systems markets.

"We are delighted with our association with Ashimori," said James A. Bertrand, vice president of Delphi Automotive Systems and president of Delphi Interior Systems, the division responsible for management of the joint venture. "Ashimori's seat belt technology coupled with our airbags and electronic capabilities makes Delphi a full-systems supplier, enabling us to better serve our customers worldwide."

"I am honored that my company has progressed into a joint venture with a global automotive occupant protection systems supplier such as Delphi," said Shigeo Ashimori, chairman of Ashimori Industry Co., Ltd. "I have every expectation that the joint venture will be a successful player in this increasingly competitive market."

Seat belts to be sold by the joint venture will be manufactured under contract with the joint venture at Delphi's award-winning RIMIR facility, located in Matamoros, Mexico. Technical support for programs will come from Delphi's safety system technical centers in Korea; Mexico; and Vandalia, Ohio, as well as from Ashimori's engineering center in Japan.

Ashimori Industry Co., Ltd., based in Osaka, Japan, was established in November 1878, and restructured as a public company in December 1935. Ashimori is a manufacturer of airbags, seat belts, fire hoses, and industrial textile products, including industrial timing belts and rope, and has a unique technology of pipeline relining systems. Ashimori's 1999 sales exceeded U.S. $260 million (approximately 27 billion yen). The company has six consolidated subsidiaries, four in Japan and two overseas.

Delphi Interior Systems is a full system integrator with advanced capabilities in occupant protection systems, steering wheels, and cockpit and door modules -- selling throughout the world. Delphi Interior Systems is a leading global supplier of interior systems and the only major supplier of both interior systems and occupant protection systems.

Multi-national Delphi Automotive Systems, with headquarters in Troy, Mich., USA; Paris; Tokyo; and Sao Paulo, Brazil, is a world leader in mobile electronics and transportation components and systems technology. Delphi's three business sectors -- Dynamics & Propulsion; Safety, Thermal & Electrical Architecture; and Electronics & Mobile Communication -- provide comprehensive product solutions to complex customer needs. Delphi has approximately 216,000 employees and operates 179 wholly owned manufacturing sites, 41 joint ventures, 53 customer centers and sales offices and 31 technical centers in 39 countries. Delphi can be found on the Internet at www.delphiauto.com .