And Thyssenkrupp fell five places to No. 21 this year after an 18 percent drop in sales.
On the flip side, some suppliers did relatively well despite the choppy circumstances.
Delphi Technologies reported a nearly 14 percent boost in sales last year. The South Korean lighting supplier SL Corp. reported a 33 percent increase in sales from the year before.
Making its debut on the list of top suppliers is Marelli — formed after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sold its parts unit Magneti Marelli to Japan’s Calsonic Kansei in a $6.5 billion deal last year. The combination of the two companies yielded the industry’s 14th largest supplier, with total global sales to automakers of $14.94 billion in 2019.
The gains were all the more remarkable in a year when issues clobbered companies ahead of the even more disruptive pandemic to come.
- The decline in vehicle demand in China knocked sales at Lake Forest, Ill.-based supplier Tenneco, slashed full-year production forecasts for Garrett Motion and largely was responsible for slowed sales growth in the first half of the year for ZF.
- The lengthy GM UAW strike hurt several suppliers. The interruption took $57 million out of third-quarter sales at Detroit-based driveline and drivetrain supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc.; dropped Nemak’s third-quarter earnings and total revenue by 13 percent and 16 percent, respectively; and cost Faurecia $25.5 million in the third quarter last year.
- The enormity of stricter emission regulations in China and Europe also hit parts makers. Continental said last fall it was going to start restructuring and cutting as many as 20,000 jobs worldwide, because of European market challenges in particular.
“The continued emergence and maturity of new business models and alignment around new mobility frameworks — that evolution and the decline in investment in some of those business models — was a big contributor to the challenges,” Miller said.
“When you take the strike into context of the market slowdown that we were seeing at the end of last year, then you also factor in the volatility of the trade agreements in some of the biggest markets, that’s when you start to get almost a perfect storm to come together. It puts everybody in an even tougher position with COVID hitting,” he said.
Ostermann observed that last year’s challenges will make 2020’s all the more troubling for many larger suppliers.
“They typically would have been in the financial position to survive COVID-19,” he said. “If those companies right now are struggling, it is because of fundamental problems they had before.”