DETROIT -- Auto production driven by incentives in the last quarter of 2002 drove Robert Bosch Corp. to a 7.1 percent increase in its automotive business for the year, but the supplier is bracing for a tough 2003.
CEO Kurt Liedtke expects this year to be difficult for business because of war jitters.
Robert Bosch Corp. of Farmington Hills, Mich., is the North American unit of Robert Bosch GmbH of Stuttgart.
"You see how the car sales in January and February have been negatively affected," Liedtke says. "This, of course, immediately is also affecting us. The stockpiles of cars goes up, the production will be cut, the supply will be cut, and we also will have to pay the price."
U.S. light-vehicle sales dipped 4.6 percent for the first two months of this year, compared with 2002.
Bosch already is buckled down, basing its business plan on a 2003 North American production forecast of 16 million units, compared with 2002 production of 16.7 million units. The supplier of electrical and chassis components ranks No. 8 on the Automotive News list of top 150 original equipment suppliers to North America.
The situation is similar to 2001, when Bosch saw its auto revenues take a hit when automakers reined in production. Robert Bosch Corp.'s auto component sales to automakers and the aftermarket totaled $4.5 billion in 2002, a gain of 7.1 percent from $4.2 billion in 2001, the company says. Bosch does not release a breakdown of original equipment compared with aftermarket sales for its auto components group.
Overall sales at Bosch's North American unit totaled $6.6 billion for 2002, up 6.5 percent from 2001.
Despite his pessimism for this year, Liedtke expects output in 2004 to return to 2002's level.
He also is looking forward to the 2005 model year, when Bosch begins production of chassis components for the next generation of General Motors' high-volume, full-sized trucks, a program known internally as GMT 900.
"This is securing our future business," Liedtke says. "We will be the market leader in chassis systems in North America."