With automakers paying more attention to the acoustical performance of vehicles, Rieter Automotive Systems aims to double its business in the Americas by 2005.
The Swiss-based supplier, which had $600 million (650 million) in North and South America revenue in 2001, plans to have $1.2 billion in the next four years and $2 billion to $3 billion by about 2010.
Rieter is No. 82 on the Automotive News Europe Top 100 Global Suppliers list, with total 2001 revenue of 1.2 billion. The Rieter Automotive North America subsidiary is based in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
The Americas sales goal should be reached without acquisitions, Rieter executives said. Most of the 2005 target is already booked by automakers that want to reduce noise, weight and cost by integrating acoustics packaging.
'The priority the automakers are placing on acoustics performance is gaining all the time,' said David Westgate, CEO of Rieter's Americas business group. 'Our technology has allowed us to grow primarily through organic growth.'
Westgate touts Rieter's so-called Ultra Light integrated acoustics system and its underbody module as key drivers of growth. Ultra Light is on 29 nameplates globally, and almost 2.21 million vehicles using the system are scheduled for production this year. Annual volume is expected to double to 4.49 million by 2005.
Ultra Light and the underbody systems cut weight and improve sound, aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, Westgate said. Assembly costs and total materials costs also can be reduced.
But automakers primarily are interested in the noise reduction possible with better acoustics systems, industry experts say. That will drive more responsibility to acoustics integrators in coming years.
'[Noise, vibration and harshness] is a very competitive area right now,' said Dan Nolley, a vehicle integration engineer at General Motors. 'Everybody puts a huge emphasis on it because it sells cars.'
Acoustics system sourcing is spreading from premium vehicles to mid-range vehicles. Rieter is gaining more design responsibility because earlier supplier involvement increases the gains on cost and acoustics performance.
Rieter is the acoustics integrator on GM's redesigned 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix, due for production in spring 2003. It is the first US program for which Rieter is responsible for meeting acoustical performance targets.
Other programs will follow, Rieter executives said, likely including a major minivan program for a North American automaker scheduled for 2006.
The Grand Prix is among the first GM programs in North America where a supplier has overall acoustical responsibility. More will follow, Nolley said. The approach eliminates the obstacles of traditional sourcing relationships and lets an expert balance a vehicle's numerous acoustical components and materials.
'As long as they meet the target and they reduce the cost and mass, then we're happy,' Nolley said.
Of course, other competitors are active in the acoustics system segment. Collins & Aikman is the largest contender, said industry analyst Scott Upham of Providata Automotive in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Others include large interior suppliers Lear and Johnson Controls.
The segment has room to grow. Acoustics components for most vehicles still are purchased piecemeal, Upham said. But nearly 100 percent of vehicles will use acoustics system sourcing by 2010.
Said Upham: 'There's really no other way to approach it now. You really have to have some economies of scale to contend in that marketplace. And you have to be a systems supplier or you're going to die.'