Here are the prospects for Europe's main cockpit-module competitors:
Although Bosch has avoided a big push into component modules, it showed a cockpit concept at last September's Frankfurt auto show. Robert Oswald, head of the company's North American operations, said there are five key cockpit technologies but that Bosch supplies only two of them - navigation systems and automotive electronics. It does not produce dashboards, air conditioning or wiring systems. So far it has no customers for its cockpit offering.
Delphi estimates it has 20 percent of the global outsourced cockpit market. The former GM subsidiary may have the broadest range of relevant technologies, since it makes wiring, electronics, air conditioning and instrument panels. Delphi's showcase cockpit contract is for the Mercedes-Benz M-class, which it supplies to DaimlerChrysler plants in Graz, Austria and Vance, Alabama, USA.
Draexlmaier is a family-owned company and long-time wiring harness supplier based in Vilsbiburg, south Germany. It makes the cockpit for the Mercedes CL. Its major wiring customers include Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Draexlmaier, which employs over 7,000 worldwide, launched itself in the cockpit segment by acquiring plastic and interior parts maker Holzindustrie Bruchsal from the former Daimler-Benz in 1998.
The Paris-based group offers a full range of interior components and supplies instrument panels to several European carmakers. It wants to move into cockpits and has shown several concepts. But it has announced no customers so far.
The US company's European cockpit business is partly based on the dashboard-making operations of Becker Group, which it acquired in 1998. Johnson Controls is a major supplier of instrument panels to Mercedes-Benz, including the dashboard modules supplied in sequence for the A-class in Rastatt, Germany.
The US seat maker acquired United Technologies Automotive's wiring business in 1999 to add electrical know-how to its instrument panel capability. Lear's move into cockpits is based on its strength as an interior systems integrator. Lear says it has at least two major contracts to deliver complete cockpits.
The Fiat-controlled components group assembles cockpit modules in Brazil and Poland for Fiat and has more under development. In 1999, Magneti Marelli signed a deal with Textron for joint development and production of integrated cockpit modules. Magneti Marelli bought 10 percent of Textron's Textron Breed Automotive division. In turn, Textron took 20 percent of Magneti Marelli Integra, Magneti Marelli's cockpit-assembly business.
Mannesmann VDO developed the cockpit module for DaimlerChrysler's Smart, one of the most completely outsourced cockpits to date. It also assembles cockpits for Volkswagen and Seat and has a number of cockpit modules under development, including one for next year's new Range Rover.
Based in Schwalbach, near Frankfurt, Mannesmann VDO moved into the cockpit business from its position as an instrument supplier. In 1998, it added navigation systems and has become European market leader in the segment.
SAS Automotive Systems
The joint venture between Sommer-Allibert's SAI Automotive division and Siemens Automotive assembles cockpits for the Skoda Octavia. It will also assemble units for the forthcoming Volkswagen Polo, built in Pamplona, Spain.
SAI recently announced that SAS had been chosen to develop cockpit modules for cars based on Ford's future mid-range C212 platform. The C212 will spawn replacements for the Ford Focus, Volvo S40/V40 and Mazda 323.
The joint venture, which is based in Woerth, Germany, includes the instrument panel business of the former Daimler-Benz, acquired in 1996.
The French giant has identified cockpits as a core area for modular growth. 'We are very strong in one important piece for the cockpit, air conditioning,' said Andre Navarri, who takes over this month as chief executive of Valeo. 'We have enough to start in cockpits but we will have to make agreements with other players to be a leader.'
Valeo's acquisition of Labinal's Sylea wiring business last week will strengthen its capability.
The auto parts unit being spun off by Ford is strong in air conditioning, instrumentation and electronics and has experience integrating functions in the cockpit. Visteon improved its position in the segment by acquiring the interiors business of Plastic Omnium in May 1999. Visteon is expected to supply the cockpit for the forthcoming Ford Fiesta replacement.