FRANKFURT - Visteon Auto-motive Systems wants to transform itself from an also-ran into a player in the European automotive aftermarket.
Over the next five years, Ford Motor Co.'s in-house parts operation aims to generate aftermarket sales of $500 million in Europe, according to Erik Lundtoft, Visteon's director of European aftermarket operations.
In 1998, Visteon reported $800 million in aftermarket sales globally, but very little of that was in Europe, Lundtoft said.
Over the past year Visteon has been building up its aftermarket organization. Lundtoft joined Visteon last year from AlliedSignal Inc.'s Europe operation, where he had been vice president of sales and marketing.
The initial focus of Visteon's aftermarket effort in Europe has been internal.
'We have worked with our factories to prepare for Visteon-sourced products,' Lundtoft said. Visteon also has hired computer-aided design experts and engineers for the new business.
A Frankfurt headquarters for aftermarket operations opened in August, and a central warehouse in the Netherlands will open at the end of this month. Visteon is setting up regional sales teams around Europe, with sales starting in the first quarter of 2000.
'The investment is designed to help us be a major player in four years' time,' Lundtoft said.
About 90 percent of the aftermarket product range is sourced from Visteon, and Lundtoft doesn't expect that figure to drop below 80 percent.
Some lines, however, will feature bought-in product such as the rear-seat entertainment system, which incorporates a Nintendo games console.
Lundtoft sees Visteon's car company background as its biggest strength.
'We have a lot of technology available that has not really been transmitted into the aftermarket yet,' he said.
Visteon's products cover 35 percent of the $20 billion European aftermarket. Lundtoft sees four core product segments: Chassis products, powertrain components, climate control devices and multimedia.