Of the world's 50 biggest makers of original-equipment parts, 22 are headquartered in Europe, according to the 1998 Global Market Data Book distributed with this issue of Automotive News Europe.
Two years ago, when Automotive News Europe compiled its first list of the world's biggest suppliers, just 16 European companies made the Top 50 list.
The European growth has been fueled by acquisitions.
French seat maker Bertrand Faure has combined the parts-making operation of automaker PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA into a new company, to be called Faurecia (No. 18).
Germany's Robert Bosch GmbH (No. 3), has grown from $12.4 billion in OEM sales in 1995 to $16.5 billion last year, thanks in part to the 1996 purchase of AlliedSignal Inc.'s antilock brake division. Another moderate acquisition could push it ahead of Ford's Visteon Automotive Systems (No. 2).
Sweden's Autoliv Inc. (No. 26) made the list through its 1996 purchase of Morton International Inc.'s safety-restraints business.
Consolidation is likely to continue. Top suppliers such as Valeo SA of France (No. 14) and Mannesmann AG of Germany (No. 16) have big ambitions for North America and could use acquisitions to achieve their goals.
By contrast, Japanese suppliers have largely stayed on the merger-and-acquisition sidelines. They have generally relied on internal sales growth and joint ventures.
As long as their home market was healthy, that strategy allowed Japanese suppliers such as Denso Corp. (No. 4) and Aisin Seki Co. Ltd. (No. 5) to enjoy steady growth.
But Japan's economic troubles could force suppliers there to consolidate.