Haartz Nears TPO Production for 2002 Vehicle, Ramps Up TPO Production for 2001 Mazda Tribute Sport Utility Vehicle

As The Haartz Corp. ramps up production of thermoplastic olefin (TPO) coverstock for the 2001 Mazda Tribute instrument panel, the company announced today that it will supply TPO coverskin for the instrument panel of another major automaker's 2002 model-year vehicle.

Haartz made the announcement here today at the Automotive & Transportation Interiors Expo, where the company is showcasing its full line of TPO coverstock and vinyl laminates for instrument panels, door trim and center console applications.

Through the Mazda Tribute contract, Haartz became the first North American tier-two automotive supplier to provide a TPO instrument panel coverskin for a major automaker. According to Tim Jackson, Haartz director of automotive sales - interiors, the company supplies TPO coverstock and polypropylene foam laminate materials to Visteon Corporation -- which is using a unique in-mold decorating process to manufacture the Mazda Tribute instrument panel.

For the second contract, Haartz will supply the TPO skin to Intertec Systems -- a joint venture between Johnson Controls, Inc. and Inoac Corp. of Japan -- which will manufacture the instrument panel for the automaker.

"As the automotive industry moves away from polyvinylchloride (PVC) and toward TPO interior-trim materials, The Haartz Corp. is delivering -- literally," Jackson said. "As a leader in TPO technology, we are well- positioned to provide our customers with TPO materials for developing these next-generation interiors. TPO materials also can enhance long-term weatherability, reduce fogging and lower overall costs."

In addition to the two TPO coverskin contracts, Jackson said the company is in discussions with several automakers and tier-one suppliers about using TPOs for other vehicle platforms. As part of a $7 million investment made to meet increasing demand, Haartz has expanded its Acton, Mass. manufacturing plant and added new equipment dedicated exclusively to olefin extrusion. Haartz produces a broad portfolio of TPO and PVC interior-trim materials for some of the best-selling, award-winning vehicles.

The company, for example, supplies polypropylene foam laminate materials to Visteon for the door panels of the 2000 Ford Taurus and 2000 Ford Focus. The Ford Focus, which was recently named the North American Car of the Year, is one of the six finalists for the Automotive & Transportation Interiors inaugural Car & Truck Interior of the Year Awards.

"These high-volume vehicle platforms exemplify the growing trend toward using low-pressure molded door-trim panels, which are another step closer to being fully recyclable," said Jackson, noting that fully recyclable door-trim panels can be achieved by combining plastics from the same family -- polypropylene foams, polypropylene substrates and TPO coverskins.

Haartz -- a leading manufacturer of engineered-coated materials for the U.S. and European markets -- has its corporate and manufacturing headquarters and a research and development center in Acton, Mass., as well as sales offices around the world, including an automotive sales office in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

One of the top 100 global automotive interior suppliers, Haartz supplies moldable automotive interior trim materials and convertible topping fabrics worldwide. The company has served the auto industry since 1907.