MUNICH, Germany - German suppliers hope to significantly expand their North American business this year, according to a survey by Automotive News' sister publication Automobilwoche.
German companies with sizable sales in the world's largest automobile market were contacted for the survey. The suppliers forecast increased sales in 2004 ranging from 3 percent to 20 percent.
In the first 10 months of 2003, German suppliers exported goods worth 2.3 billion euros - about $2.8 billion at current exchange rates - to North America, according to the German Automobile Industry Association. Hella KG Hueck & Co., a supplier of lighting and electronics, expects to increase U.S. sales of $134 million by at least 3 percent. Brose Fahrzeugteile GmbH boss Michael Stoschek expects sales to rise during 2004 by more than 20 percent to $294 million. Brose makes window regulators, seat adjusters and locking systems. The company plans to double its U.S. sales by 2006, Stoschek says. The company wants to raise U.S. sales to $530 million. Transmission manufacturer ZF Friedrichshafen AG expects sales growth of 5 percent to 9 percent. Last year, ZF posted sales of about $2.5 billion in North America. This year, its factory in Chicago will supply axles for the new Ford 500 and the Freestyle. ZF also manufactures continuously variable transmissions. Franz Fehrenbach, chairman of Robert Bosch GmbH's board, predicts that diesel engines will make a breakthrough in the United States. Only 1 percent of new passenger vehicles sold in the United States have diesels; in Europe, more than 40 percent have diesel. Bosch has formed joint ventures with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler to produce diesel injection systems.
Despite the forecast, some German suppliers are cautious. Though Continental AG plans to increase U.S. sales of original-equipment tires, it will wait and see how demand develops in the larger spare-tire market.
In 2002, North America accounted for 25 percent of Continental's total sales of about $14.3 billion.
Klaus-Dieter Floerecke writes for Automobilwoche.