FRANKFURT - Lear Corp. expects to win contracts for integrated complete interiors in Europe within three years.
Robert Rossiter, Lear's Frankfurt-based president of international operations, believes that complete interiors will account for 25 percent of the combined market for interior products in five to 10 years.
The US-based supplier has two contracts for complete interiors in North America and one in the Asia-Pacific region. But European carmakers are hesitating.
'There is interest in Europe,' said Rossiter, 'but there hasn't been anybody yet who is committed to a total interior. Carmakers often want to know what is happening in North America and how these programs are going. We probably need a little more time to sell that.'
Lear says its complete interiors, which include seats and doors and instrument panels and stereos, are engineered to fit together easily for rapid assembly. Rossiter says there are important advantages for automakers. Besides simplified manufacturing, savings can be realized in the product design phase.
'You can design on a computer and make the interior a one-shot deal,' he said. 'There would be no management interference, engineering changes and all the confusion that goes on.'
Lear's development engineers calculate savings of 10-25 percent, depending on the product. The company sees applications for total interiors mainly in low-volume products and in emerging markets.
'Our customers need a strong supply base to follow them around the world and move into emerging markets and the markets in the east,' said Rossiter. 'I think they will have to rely on total interior suppliers.'
Lear's European business has grown from $268 million in 1992 to $1.95 billion in 1997.