Growing demand by carmakers for systems to save fuel and cut emissions of carbon dioxide will strengthen suppliers, industry experts say.
Automakers will need to tighten their ties with the supplier industry because suppliers are developing technologies that will make cars more fuel-efficient and cut CO2 emissions, said Eric Heymann, senior economist of Deutsche Bank research.
These technologies include new fuel injection systems for diesel and gasoline engines, exhaust after-treatment systems and technology such as start-stop.
The European Union is preparing legislation to cut average CO2 emissions from new cars in Europe to 120 grams per kilometer between 2012 and 2015, from about 160 grams now.
"Carmakers and suppliers are finding they have to work closely together in order to integrate new technology to achieve optimum efficiency," Shigehiro Nishimura, president of Denso Europe, told Automotive News Europe in an interview last month. "Ultimately, this will probably be good for suppliers who can produce fuel-saving technology, as they will be able to charge more and improve their profitability."
Said Lars Holmqvist, CEO of CLEPA, the European association of automotive suppliers: "I am convinced that new EU regulations will apply worldwide within the next 10 years."
EU suppliers benefit
Having the technology ready to go will become a competitive advantage for the European supplier industry, Holmqvist said. Suppliers are counting on forecasts that predict massive sales and growth in green technology, which is contributing to CO2 reductions.
For example, Bernd Bohr, head of Robert Bosch's automotive unit, expects that more than half of the new cars sold in Europe in the next four to five years will be equipped with stop-start systems. Such systems automatically shut down the engine when the vehicle is stationary, then restart it when the driver wishes to move again.
Bohr said equipping an engine with turbocharging and gasoline-direct injection allows automakers to reduce engine size yet maintain power. That is a more cost-effective way to improve fuel economy than a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain, he said.
Electric steering growth
Electric steering will be the biggest growth area for TRW Automotive in the near future, said Peter Lake, the company's vice president for sales and business development. Electric steering can bring a CO2 reduction of 8 to 10 grams per kilometer in the European drive cycle, he said.
CSM Worldwide forecasts that by 2014, three-quarters of all European models will use electric steering.
Continental's chief technology officer, Karl-Thomas Neumann, said his powertrain division will be one of the company's most important growth areas. Continental supplies systems for hybrids and vehicle energy management, concentrating on power electronics and energy storage units, plus electrical devices in conjunction with ZF Friedrichshafen.
(Source: Automotive News)