DETROIT - Robert Bosch GmbH, the world's second-largest automotive supplier, enjoyed strong growth in North America last year. North American automotive sales rose more than 8 percent, to $4.2 billion.
Bosch expects additional growth this year as it launches a complete wheel-end assembly in September. It will supply all four 'corners' of a sport-utility to an unnamed North American automaker.
'This is very significant for Bosch,' Hans Weckerle, president of Bosch Braking Systems-Americas, said during the 2000 SAE World Congress here.
Weckerle said the corners contract, Bosch's first such program in North America, is valued at more than $100 million and involves 10 subsuppliers. The wheel-end assembly includes an aluminum steering knuckle, hub, bearing, brake rotor, splash shield and brake caliper.
Also, Bosch is hoping to be the first in North America to supply gasoline direct-injection systems. The company has at least one contract with a North American automaker that could offer the system in other markets as well, said Robert Oswald, chairman of Robert Bosch Corp. of Broadview, Ill., a unit of the Stuttgart, Germany, company.
Bosch's gasoline direct-injection program is used on the new VW Lupo in Europe. Bosch's first North American program is expected on a 2004 model, Oswald said.
With gasoline direct injection, fuel injectors spray gasoline directly into the cylinder, instead of outside of the cylinders in the intake plenum. The payoff is better fuel economy.
Bosch's worldwide sales increased last year by 7 percent to $29.4 billion. Bosch's global automotive sales rose last year to $19.1 billion, up from $18.2 billion the year before. Oswald attributed the growth to the increasing importance of navigation systems, engine management and injection technology, and the supplier's electronic stability program.
Bosch is doubling its space to 310,000 square feet at its Clarksville, Tenn., plant, where the supplier is building the wheel-end assembly modules.
Weckerle declined to detail the modules' cost, but he said the customer 'will get more for the same money even though the value is much higher.'
Bosch is improving the module by substituting aluminum steering knuckles for the cast iron ones previously used. Bosch expects a reduction in weight, better handling and greater corrosion resistance.
Weckerle said he was forced to bring in traffic experts to develop a pattern for the 150 trucks Bosch will use daily at the Clarksville plant when it begins shipping the modules later this year.