SHANGHAI - Parts suppliers to General Motors increasingly must keep China in mind.
China will account for up to 20 percent of sales of some global platforms, one supplier source says.
GM's Ray Bierzynski, president of the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center Co. Ltd., says, "We need to be very aggressive at getting China requirements in all the future architectures that are being studied or developed."
PATAC, as the center is known, is a 50/50 joint venture of GM and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., a major Chinese automaker.
GM models increasingly are based on common core platforms - meaning the brakes, steering, chassis, instrument panel and underbody have one design used globally.
"The whole idea is to source it once, supply it globally," Bierzynski says. "When a global architecture car comes here, we don't have to redesign the suspension; all we have to do is readjust the struts."
PATAC's primary task now is to adapt existing architectures to the China market. For example, PATAC took the Daewoo Lacetti sedan and restyled the grille and taillamps "to create a car with Buick character for China," Bierzynski says.
Adaptations specifically for the China market already are playing an increasingly larger role in sourcing decisions. China's share of global quote packages is growing quickly, says the Asia Pacific commercial director for a U.S. supplier. In a quote package, a supplier provides price quotes to automakers for components in various major markets.
"The China volume can be up to 20 percent of the total global quote package now, whereas just a few years ago it wasn't included at all," he says.
So suppliers need to be up-to-date on special China touches in such models as the latest GL-8 van assembled at Shanghai General Motors. The GL-8 is based on the Pontiac Montana.
PATAC "took the old product and turned it into a unique product for China," Bierzynski says. "Put the China model beside the previous model or U.S. models, and it is completely different."
Among the China touches: Front and back screens for watching DVDs (the front screen works only when the car is stopped) and captain-style seats in the two back seat rows instead of bench seats.
The ultimate goal is for PATAC to become a GM "homeroom," capable of leading the development of a platform for worldwide sales.
"That is our vision," Bierzynski says.
"We have a plan that puts together a capability in that direction. But I wouldn't disclose a time frame. That is a Detroit decision."