DETROIT -- When Tim Leuliette steps down as CEO of Visteon Corp. late this year, he will leave behind a company working in just one major product sector: cockpit electronics.
That's a radical change for Ford Motor Co.'s former in-house parts division, which had a vast, disjointed product portfolio.
When Visteon was spun off in 2000, the company made glass, climate control modules, bumpers, fuel tanks, axles, steering components, in-vehicle entertainment, navigation systems, headlights and powertrain cooling systems.
Now, the company produces instrument clusters, infotainment displays, vehicle security systems -- and the software needed to run these products. Lots and lots of software.
And that, in fact, is where the money is these days. During a Jan. 5 interview with Automotive News, Leuliette said half of Visteon's 4,000 engineers are software developers.
To underline that expertise, Visteon showcased its reconfigurable instrument clusters in January at International CES in Las Vegas. Car owners can create a new look for their speedometer and tachometer by downloading a software upgrade. That's a long way from the old Visteon's glass, bumpers and fuel tanks.
At International CES, Visteon also touted its ability to integrate a vehicle's instrument cluster, center console and head-up display into one harmonious package. Automakers value that kind of expertise, said Mike Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive.
Integration of a vehicle's displays "is the secret sauce of this market," Robinet said. "It's really critical to integrate the hardware with the software."