DETROIT - David Cote still is learning his way around the automotive industry.
The president of TRW Inc. joined the company last November. He left behind a 25-year career with General Electric, where he most recently was CEO of GE Appliances.
But last week at the 2000 SAE World Congress, Cote was ready to assess the state of TRW's automotive operations and hint at what the future might hold.
Cote said he's concentrating on three areas. He wants to:
1. Cut material purchasing costs from TRW's level of 50 percent of sales
2. Reduce inventories to boost working capital
3. Eliminate products that don't add value for TRW customers.
'Quite honestly, we just make too much stuff,' he said.
But he has not figured out what might be next to go. Just before Cote came on board, TRW sold its diesel fuel-injector business to Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. for $871 million.
As for the auto industry as a whole, Cote said he doesn't expect the supplier consolidation trend of recent years to erase what he called the 'often difficult' relationships among suppliers and between suppliers and OEMs, even if it means fewer, larger players.
'This is just a difficult industry where you've got to be trying to bring better cost, quality, delivery and technology every day,' Cote said. 'I don't see that changing.'