Hitachi Automotive plans its overseas expansion

Hitachi Automotive displayed its products at the 2014 Japan Society of Automotive Engineers convention.

TOKYO -- Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd. aims to leverage its expertise in electronics to win more overseas customers. Its overseas push is part of a trend of Japanese suppliers' seeking growth abroad as vehicle sales stagnate at home.

Outlining the company's midterm goals, CEO Kunihiko Ohnuma said he targets a 12 percent increase in global sales to ¥1 trillion ($9.79 billion) in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016, from $8.73 billion in the fiscal year that ended March 31.

By that same target year, sales to overseas customers should account for 60 percent of global revenue, up from 53 percent in the last fiscal year, he said. Hitachi Automotive is No. 20 on the Automotive News list of the Top 100 global suppliers.

The Americas feature prominently in the plan.

By the year ending March 31, 2016, Hitachi Automotive aims to boost sales in North and South America 60 percent from the year that ended March 31, 2011, and 16 percent from the fiscal year that just ended. To fuel the expansion, it will invest $440.5 million in the region in the three fiscal years ending March 31, 2016.

Ohnuma aims to improve profitability and win new customers by focusing on electronics and electric technologies, in safety systems, fuel-efficient drivetrains and onboard telematics. Hitachi Automotive will go beyond commodity parts by tapping the vast electronics expertise of its parent, Hitachi Ltd.

"This is where we would like to assert our advantage," Ohnuma said at the company's annual investor-relations presentation. "By adding new products on top of commodity products, we are growing quite rapidly."

The company wants to boost electronics to 60 percent of its global revenue in the year to March 31, 2021, from about 46 percent in the year to March 31, 2013.

That strategy helped Hitachi Automotive double sales to Ford over the four fiscal years that ended March 31, 2013, Ohnuma said. Sales grew on telematics, electric power steering and semi-active suspension components, among other products. It is now pitching Ford on stereo cameras and hybrid drivetrain systems.

The Renault-Nissan alliance is Hitachi Automotive's biggest customer, accounting for 34 percent of its total revenue.

You can reach Hans Greimel at -- Follow Hans on Twitter: @hansgreimel

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