DETROIT – Robert Bosch said it expects to achieve another year of double-digit sales growth in North America by winning market share from competitors.
Bosch’s North American arm reported $5.2 billion (E4.16 billion) in automotive revenue in 2004, up 16 percent from the year before.
The No. 1 global supplier, Bosch expects to increase 2005 sales in North America 13 percent despite lower production from two major customers, General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
GM, Ford, the Chrysler group, Honda and Toyota recently said they will make electronic stability control systems standard on all SUVs. That’s a major product line for Bosch.
“That technology was brought to the market 10 years ago by Bosch,” said Kurt Liedtke, CEO of Bosch’s US division. “We use innovation to separate us from our competitors.”
Emphasis on r&d
Bosch puts 9 percent of its revenue into r&d each year. A 2003 study by consultantcy AT Kearney found an average r&d investment of 2.5 percent among US suppliers.
Liedtke said Bosch uses its advantage as a private company to put more money into r&d and grab business from competitors by building original systems.
Struggling US suppliers here will find it difficult to keep up with Bosch’s technical innovations, said Herb Everss, president of the consulting firm Global Emergent and a former vice president at Siemens VDO Automotive.
“Automakers may be willing to spend a little more on a part when they know they’ll have the edge on the competition for three years,” he said.
But Bosch could face a larger threat from TRW Automotive, Everss said. TRW competes with Bosch on key safety products, including electronic stability control, and is in a better position now than in the past.
TRW, once a division of Cleveland-based TRW Inc., is now an independent company backed by Blackstone Group, a private equity firm.