Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chrysler sues battery supplier Johnson Controls: report

(Reuters) - U.S. automaker Chrysler LLC has filed a lawsuit in a Michigan court alleging supplier Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) charged inflated prices for batteries, and is seeking more than $15 million in damages, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

In a lawsuit filed on Aug 14, Chrysler alleged Johnson Controls had charged Chrysler for more lead than it actually put into batteries, the report said.

Chrysler, the No. 3 U.S.-based automaker, alleged JCI's actions were "systematic and deliberate." JCI, one of the largest U.S. auto parts makers, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Chrysler, controlled by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP CBS.UL, is cutting costs as it and other vehicle makers face a sharp decline in big vehicle and truck sales in the United States amid higher fuel prices.

Its new purchasing chief, John Campi, has advocated having more parts made in India and other countries where costs are lower.

At one point, Chrysler looked into buying batteries from India instead of JCI, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Chrysler was not immediately available for comments.

Earlier this month, auto parts maker Dana had sued Chrysler in an attempt to strike a "market-competitive agreement" and was prepared to stop supplying the automaker next year.

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