(From the July 9, 2012, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
DETROIT—Suppliers to the North American auto industry enjoyed an excellent year in 2011—unless they were major vendors to Toyota Motor Corp. or Honda Motor Co.
Only 10 of the 100 biggest suppliers to auto makers in North America had sales drop last year, and eight of those are headquartered in Japan.
Suppliers of rubber-related products to the automotive original equipment market came along for the ride. Of the 19 companies listed on the Top 100 Suppliers list, complied by Automotive News—a sister publication of Rubber & Plastics News—17 posted increases in sales. The two that didn't: Toyoda Gosei North America Corp. and DTR Industries Inc., both Japanese-owned companies.
Continental Automotive Systems U.S. Inc. came in as the largest rubber-related OEM supplier. Tires and technical goods are just some of the products the firm provides, generating North American sales of $5.8 billion, good enough for third on the overall list.
Seating and electrical power management systems maker Lear Corp. is the next highest elastomer-related company in the rankings. Its $4.9 billion in sales was good enough for seventh place.
Dana Holding, Tenneco Inc. and BASF Corp. all made it into the top 20 rankings.
Goodyear's $1.68 billion in OEM sales gave it the next-highest tire company ranking, at 32. Rival Michelin North America Inc. finished at No. 58, with sales of $793 million, and Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. ranks at 61 with sales of $766 million to the auto makers.
Vehicle sales by Toyota and Honda plunged last year after production of some parts was crippled, first by the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan and then by flooding at some suppliers' factories in Thailand.
At the largest Japanese supplier, Denso International America Inc., sales to North American auto makers dropped an estimated 5 percent in fiscal 2011. Automotive News estimated sales when suppliers declined to provide figures. Denso produces starters, air conditioning systems, electronics and other parts.
Also, Toyota Boshoku America Inc.'s sales in North America sank 13 percent. Toyota Boshoku, which along with Denso is a member of the Toyota Group, makes seats and other interior components.
But some Japanese auto suppliers' sales to North America rose last year. Aisin World Corp. of America posted an estimated increase of 6 percent to $3.29 billion in North America. The transmission supplier is the North American division of another member of the Toyota Group.
Yazaki North America Inc., which sells electrical connectors and wire harnesses, had an estimated 17-percent increase in fiscal 2011.
In general, suppliers with strong ties to American, European and South Korean auto makers flourished last year as vehicle sales continued to rebound from recession levels.
The top supplier to North America, Magna International Inc., posted a 20-percent sales increase to $14.7 billion. Magna sells seats and other interior parts, chassis and powertrain components and many other parts.
Magna's sales were nearly double those of No. 2 on the list, Johnson Controls Inc., which had a 16-percent increase to $7.87 billion.
Johnson Controls manufactures seats, interior parts, batteries and other components.
Mobis North America, formerly Hyun¼dai Mobis, rode the North American success of Hyundai and Kia last year with a 39-percent sales increase in fiscal 2011 to $3.81 billion. Mobis produces chassis and cockpit modules, front-end modules, antilock brake parts and other components.
In 2011, Hyundai-Kia Automotive passed Nissan North America to become the sixth-largest auto maker in the U.S.
But Mobis also has built a strong relationship with Chrysler Group. For instance, Mobis builds the rolling chassis for the Jeep Wrangler.