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Carrier-Toshiba Variables

VRF technology takes center stage in Toshiba-Carrier divestiture

The major business reorganization of Toshiba (featured in EA’’s Direct & Current, December 2021) is beginning to crystallize, and it will affect the HVAC/R sector.

TCC air conditioning units on the deck of the U.S.S. North Carolina, moored in Wilmington, N.C.—Carrier photo

Carrier Global Corporation, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., signed a binding agreement February 6 to acquire Toshiba Corporation's ownership stake in Toshiba Carrier Corporation (TCC), a variable refrigerant flow and light commercial HVAC joint venture with Carrier.

Established in 1999, TCC designs and manufactures variable refrigerant flow (VRF) and light commercial HVAC systems utilizing its own proprietary inverter technology, as well as commercial products, compressors and heat pumps.

VRF can be seen in most of Carrier’s recognizable air conditioning and heating units; those signature cube-shaped fixtures you often see on the side of a neighbor’s house, but are used for additional, interesting applications. One of these is the U.S.S. North Carolina BB-55, a famous battleship (pictured) currently under restoration and moored in Wilmington, N.C., which hosts historical tours. Delivering comfortable air to a battleship is “a special kind of challenge,” per Carrier, but VRF installations enabled the ship to transfer conditioned air where it wasn’t available before, opening up rentable space that hadn’t before existed. The World War II iteration of the North Carolina, sometimes known as the “showboat” by its tour guides, is best known for its role(s) in the Guadalcanal and Philippine Sea campaigns.

The advantages of VRF technology are that it can deliver heating and cooling through systems that are typically all-electric and highly efficient, something consistent with Carrier's sustainability goals to reduce its customers' carbon footprint by more than one gigaton by 2030.

In addition to clarifying its restructured businesses, including the new entities of Device Co. and Toshiba/Infrastructure Service Co., Toshiba made a separate announcement regarding the Carrier divestment, saying: “As part of the strategic reorganization process, Toshiba separately announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell its joint venture stake in Toshiba Carrier Corporation to the Carrier Group for approximately 100 billion Japanese Yen [roughly $86 billion].” The company also mentioned it is “moving forward with divestiture plans for Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corporation and Toshiba Lighting & Technology Corporation.”

Carrier's acquisition will include all of TCC's research & development centers and global manufacturing operations, product pipeline, and the long-term use of, in Carrier’s words, “Toshiba's deeply respected and iconic brand.”

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