Japanese automakers are showing increased interest in sourcing parts from European suppliers.
More than 120 purchasing executives and engineers from nine Japanese automakers attended a conference jointly sponsored by Japanese and European supplier associations last month in Stuttgart. Another 500 European supplier and automaker executives attended.
The record attendance proves Japanese carmakers want more business with European suppliers, said Jürgen Harnisch, president of CLEPA, the European supplier association, and CEO of ThyssenKrupp Automotive.
European suppliers can capitalize on growing Japanese assembly operations in Europe, said Shoji Kondo, chairman of the Japanese purchasing committee and a Toyota managing director.
'European suppliers have excellent innovation and development capabilities' comparable to or better than Japanese and US competitors, he said.
But Kondo said European suppliers are still weak in reducing costs and slow in preparing for production.
- Edmund Chew
Valeo said its cost-cutting efforts paid off in improved operating profits in the first quarter.
Valeo's E98 million operating profit margin was 3.8 percent of sales, up from 2 percent a year ago. Net income was E20 million after one-time charges.
CEO Thierry Morin said he was confident that Valeo would reach a quarterly operating profit margin of 6 percent later this year.
Following asset disposals and a weak automotive market, Valeo's revenue fell 5.5 percent to E2.55 billion from a year ago.
Meanwhile, Valeo's US unit Valeo Electrical Systems had reached a tentative agreement with trade unions at its plant in Rochester, New York, to alter a two-year old labor contract.
- Sylviane de Saint-Seine
Audi cuts targets
Sales of the Audi A2 continue to run below expectations this year. Through March, 11,318 A2s were sold in western Europe, 16 percent down from the same period last year.
Sales of the aluminum car were already slow in 2001 with only 52,000 sales globally, half in Germany. The annually capacity of the A2 plant in Neckarsulm, Germany, is more than 60,000 vehicles. Audi cut A2 sales targets for this year to 44,000 units.