Now that annualized U.S. vehicle sales have breached 15 million units, suppliers are trying to head off possible production bottlenecks.
In a January survey of 109 manufacturers by the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, 76 percent said they expected to run their plants on overtime in the first quarter.
Moreover, 54 percent said they expected to encounter first-quarter capacity constraints within their own manufacturing operations.
To fill rising orders from automakers, suppliers are installing new machinery, opening new plants, hiring workers and running checks on their vendors to spot possible bottlenecks.
"We are flat-out at our plants in North America on some products," Don Walker, CEO of Magna International Inc., said last week at the Geneva auto show. "We are working closely with our Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers to make sure they have the production volumes."
Walker believes the recent upturn is more than a blip, and other suppliers share his optimism. According to the survey, 64 percent of respondents said they were optimistic about their outlook for the next 12 months, up from only 27 percent in a November survey.