Auto Service World
News   September 27, 2006   by Auto Service World

Everyone Learning to Share

Suppliers are presently helping vehicle manufacturers (VMs) source cost-effective products because of their competencies in basic components and their ability to integrate these components at a greater level.
Frost & Sullivan finds the penetration rate of the European Market for Door Modules and Systems to be 37 per cent in 2005 and estimates this to reach 40 per cent in 2015.
“With components going beyond generic definition of platforms, VMs are looking out for components and systems sharing capabilities across platforms,” notes Frost &Sullivan Research Analyst Benny Daniel.
“Targets being components that can be made invisible under the skin of the car, suppliers are being encouraged to take up such projects, with VMs willing to share hidden common components among themselves.”
Moreover, with electronics forming an important component of doors, platform strategies across model ranges are bound to be critical in keeping costs down.
For instance, Ford has outsourced door modules for the Ford Fiesta and Fusion to suppliers like Faurecia with the latter supplying the complete interior trim along with the carrier module.
Brose supplies the Focus with the carrier module that helps them integrate several components such as regulators, latches, locks, speakers and wiring harness as a completely assembled unit.
At present, however, most VMs are doubtful about the cost savings claims being made by suppliers.
Door modules manufacturers such as Brose and Faurecia are, for instance, presently stating price savings of nearly 40 euros per car.
This, most manufacturers feel, are long-term goals that can be achieved based on the openness and acceptance rates by VMs across Europe.
“The main process believed to pose a major challenge for suppliers would be the topic of handling responsibilities,” says Anil Valsan, Frost & Sullivan Transportation Programme Manager.
“The decision about whether the entire project should be handled by a team or an individual group within the supplier and in the process entitling them to the ownership of the entire project is a key issue.”
Suppliers will need to explore and build a piece price per module by examining approaches towards important cost factors across R&D, engineering, new plant investment, depreciation, volume predictions, overhead allocation and other capital costs.
In a scenario where the cost savings quoted by suppliers are not supported by VMs, the need for suppliers to carefully analyse financial benefits will arise.
In the short term, market participants in the field of plastics, wiring harness and door structures will try to evaluate potential opportunities for collaboration and for supplying an intermediate sub module.
This will set the precedent for the takeover of a few companies and make them view themselves as future competitors in the door modules market.
“Additionally, companies that cater to automotive seats like Johnson Control, Lear and even Magna to an extent are attempting to win door module business by supplying both components and interiors partly through acquisitions,” observes Mr. Daniel.
“With greater application of plastics and composite materials in doors, participants have realised the importance of the complete module for brand and product differentiation through product integration.”

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