Slowing down of sales, reduction of production, lack of liquidity, downgraded perspectives, drastic social plan (PSA intends to eliminate 8,000 jobs in 2013 and 2014 in France) … The difficult environment for car manufacturers is all the more for automotive suppliers that rely heavily on the sector hence the urgent need for them to propose solutions to automotive manufacturers in order to support the market and to face this economic turbulence.
Badly hit by the global financial crisis and economic slowdown, the automotive suppliers have more need than ever to differentiate and create added value to compete. « Everyone is on the lookout for the latest innovation that will make the difference. If you are not the best, and moreover before the other, you cannot fight », David Beauregard, Vice-President of the Federation of French manufacturers (Fiev). Ecology and fuel consumption seem to be preferred, and many manufacturers offer solutions to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce consumption. The French supplier Valeo has presented several solutions to make the new car models consume less (reduce consumption by 40%) and Faurecia opted for eco-innovation and recycling. For its part, Michelin aims to revolutionize the tire (4 years for tire research specifically designed for Zoe, the Renault electric vehicle). Similarly, Continental, Magna, Bosch, Johnson Controls and others work on topics such as: injection, weight reduction, hybridization, and the need to reduce CO2 emissions.
Technological research is a priority for manufacturers, and all present new innovations to enhance the comfort and safety in cars. There are for example, to name but a few:
- The U.S automotive supplier TRW who presents a hybrid system to detect sub-conflates or a concept of a retractable steering wheel designed to facilitate access to less agile drivers
- Continental who offers a number of innovations such as a stereo camera (which reliably recognizes pedestrians and traffic passengers to avoid or at least reduce the severity of frequent accidents involving pedestrians or vehicles at intersections) or the new DTCO ® Smart Link (which uses Bluetooth to send data from the digital tachograph directly on the Smartphone connected driver and opens the door to a whole range of useful application) and the driver assistance systems that are connected to a bunch of versatile LED lights to create a powerful tool against distracted driving…
All these innovations have made it possible to boost the automotive market and the growth of manufacturers. So after the 2010 track record marked by the crisis, the 2012 figures confirm the return to normal and results in high rehabilitation (Continental AG is in the first rank and is the most powerful supplier in 2012 with a 9% margin rate). The market however remains tight and there is a great deal of uncertainty about the evolution of the production of cars and other key markets (falling sales in Europe). All the stakeholders are looking to diversify their markets and capitalize on the explosion of Asian markets (China, India, Russia).
Author- Ayoub Gbada