COLOGNE, Germany - Visteon Corp. is looking outside North America and past Ford Motor Co. for growth.
This year, for the first time since being spun off by Ford, Visteon will do more business with Ford's competitors than with its former parent. When Visteon became independent in 2000, more than four-fifths of its business was with Ford.
The company wants to generate 60 percent of its business outside Ford, said Heinz Pfannschmidt, head of Visteon's European and South American operations.
In May, Visteon restructured its unprofitable North American operations with a $3 billion bailout from Ford. The automaker plans to take back 24 unprofitable factories and support sites. The plants employ 17,400 workers. Pfannschmidt said that the moves would have no impact outside North America.
"In Europe, Visteon made profits in 2004," he told reporters at a technology presentation here. "We're changing from being very North American-dominated. Europe will become our biggest region."
Visteon ranks No. 6 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers, with worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $17.7 billion in 2004.With the return of North American plants to Ford, sales are projected at about $11.4 billion this year.
Visteon has three core businesses: climate control, interiors and electronics. The fast-growing lighting sector falls under electronics.
As evidence of Visteon's growing success in Europe, Joel Coque, in charge of the company's business with Renault SA and alliance partner Nissan Motor Co. and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA, said Visteon now is the biggest non-Japanese supplier to Nissan, with about $1 billion of bookings on "nearly all of the new-product lines."
With PSA, Visteon had become one of the few suppliers chosen to participate in co-development programs on future products, Coque said.
Pfannschmidt said Visteon's biggest growth area is electronics.
"Today, electronics is 25 percent of the value of a car," Pfannschmidt said. "The consensus is that it will grow to 40 percent by the end of this decade. The compound annual growth rate in this business is 8.5 percent."
In interiors, the content on small and medium cars also is growing rapidly, he said. And climate control offers opportunities. "Air conditioning will become standard, first with a manual system, then later on with automatic control and finally multizone," Pfannschmidt said.
Visteon denies that its new focus on climate control, electronics and interiors means it is reducing its work in powertrain and chassis, though chassis was its biggest division in 2000. For instance, Visteon is making half shafts for the new Mini.
"We have announced that we are dropping things like pumps, hubs, drums and knuckles," Pfannschmidt said. "Yes, we're changing the mix, but we're still doing a lot of chassis business with companies like PSA, Opel, Saab and Smart."