COBURG, Germany - Brose KG vows to retain 50 percent of the global door-module market in the next decade, despite increasing competition.
A further upturn in business with the Volkswagen Group - already Brose's biggest customer - will underpin the growth of the supplier, which is based here.
Brose leads the door-module market, with 51 percent of 1999's estimated global volume of 11 million units, and the market is growing rapidly.
With megasuppliers such as Delphi Automotive Systems Corp., Johnson Controls Inc., Lear Corp. and Valeo SA trying to muscle in, however, the market is getting crowded.
Brose traditionally has been a major supplier of window regulators and seat adjusters to the European auto industry.
It began expanding its window-regulator business into door modules in the early 1980s when it started developing its first concept module. It produced its first door module for the Audi Coupe in 1987.
The big breakthrough came when Volkswagen decided to use door modules in the Passat. Production started in 1997, and Brose's door-module business almost doubled the following year.
'In the very near future all Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat vehicles will be equipped with Brose door concepts,' predicted Kurt Sauernheimer, head of Brose's door module business unit.
Brose also supplies door modules to Renault, Rover and Volvo.
Door modules will account for 30 percent of Brose's expected sales of $1.3 billion this year. The company is working on nine new door projects with customers.
Savings vary according to the processes, materials and the level of integration in place in a plant, Sauernheimer said. He cited as an example a recent study Brose conducted for an unnamed carmaker. Brose estimated that a move to door modules could save $13 to $21 a car.
Door modules cost $4.2 million to $6.3 million to develop, not counting the cost of tooling or facilities, Sauernheimer said.
Door-module business growth led Brose to create a separate business unit for the sector this year.
The company plans to invest $23.4 million in its door-module business this year. It plans to expand its German research and development center at Hallstadt.
Brose also plans to expand overseas, particularly in North and South America. It opened a Detroit sales office in 1993. At first it focused on window regulators, but the Detroit office recently acquired the ability to design door modules.
Brose has two plants in Mexico, one supplying Volkswagen and the other supplying window regulators to the United States. It also opened a plant in Brazil late last year.
Brose's sales in North and South America are expected to rise as high as $120 million next year.