Braking systems specialist Knorr-Bremse is to acquire the commercial vehicle steering business (IPS) from Hitachi Automotive Systems in Japan and Thailand.

The division is the leading supplier of power steering parts for commercial vehicles in Japan.

Knorr-Bremse said the deal takes a further step towards it supplying highly integrated systems, as well as new functionalities in the field of driver assistance and automated driving.

The acquisition is subject to approval by anti-trust authorities and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

"Knorr-Bremse has global experience with commercial vehicles in the fields of vehicle dynamics, driver assistance systems and the main related actuators, which means brakes and steering. The take-over of the commercial vehicle steering business from Hitachi will expand our steering system portfolio and further enhance our future potential as a global supplier for driver assistance and highly automated driving systems," said Peter Laier, head of the commercial vehicle systems division.

"With the expertise of Hitachi Automotive Systems on recirculating ball steering (RCB) gears and the torque overlay steering (TOS), Knorr-Bremse will strengthen the cooperation with Japanese commercial vehicle manufacturers through providing further support for their future highly automated driving vehicles. We also see good potential to use the acquired technology to support Chinese customers," said BaoPing Xu, head of the Knorr-Bremse Asia-Pacific CV systems unit.

Knorr-Bremse expects to become the leading supplier of recirculating ball steering (RCB) gears for commercial vehicles in Japan and a global supplier for commercial vehicle steering systems. This will create a solid global basis for subsequent introduction of torque overlay systems (TOS) for automated driving functions.

Knorr-Bremse will also gain better access to the Japanese and southeast Asian markets and will have the opportunity to also provide further products of the business segment for commercial vehicles in these regions.

Hitachi Automotive Systems' commercial vehicle steering business is one of the world leading developers and suppliers of competitive, high-performance steering technology and manufactures hydraulic power steering for commercial vehicles ranging from pickup to heavy trucks to heavy-duty trucks. In 2017, the IPS business generated a turnover close to EUR100m and has strong business relationships with Japanese OEMs. The sites in Japan and Thailand house a workforce of around 350.

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