LIPPSTADT, Germany Module supplier HBPO GmbH expects major growth this year as more automakers use subcontractors to produce front-end modules.
About 40 percent of the 16 million light vehicles built each year in Europe have front-end modules built by subcontractors, says Tomas Hedenborg, CEO of HBPO.
By using subcontractors for front-end module assembly, automakers free up factory space and reduce complexity, Hedenborg says.
The latest automaker to join the trend is BMW AG. HBPO will build front-end modules for the Mini starting next year in Oxford, England.
HBPO, of Lippstadt, Germany, is a joint venture subsidiary of lighting specialist Hella KG Hueck & Co., heat exchanger company Behr GmbH and bumper and exterior supplier Plastic Omnium Co.
The fastest-growing markets for front-end modules are North America and Asia, Hedenborg says. He expects front-end module business to double in both regions in the next four years.
North America is at the beginning of the trend, he says. Next year HBPO will open two plants in North America to support DaimlerChrysler AG factories in St. Louis and Windsor, Ontario. The company also is involved in a new project for Ford Motor Co. near the automakers Hermosillo, Mexico, assembly plant.
Hedenborg expects automakers in China to begin using front-end modules starting in 2007.
The Chinese market for outsourced front-end modules will grow quickly, Hedenborg predicts. Automakers in China are increasing capacity rapidly in their plants, so they need to conserve space.
HBPOs toughest competitor is Faurecia SA of Nanterre, France, which opened a plant in Leipzig, Germany, recently to supply BMWs new factory there.
Other suppliers delivering front-end modules or major component parts are Valeo SA, Visteon Corp., Denso Corp. and Decoma International Inc.
Hedenborg expects HBPOs sales to increase this year to 2 million units, compared with 1.16 million in 2004. c