If you survey the auto industry you’ll find more than a dozen original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) ranging from Toyota to General Motors and all the way down to Mitsubishi and Jaguar Land Rover. These are the companies that provide the final product or the vehicles you drive.
Automotive manufacturers have long relied on suppliers to provide a number of components ranging from the small rear view mirrors to the large diesel engines. Automakers put together the final product, assembling thousands of parts from scores of auto suppliers.
A June 2013 report carried by Automotive News looked at the top suppliers in North America, Europe and the world. That report provided a fascinating glimpse at an industry where the big players are getting stronger and the smaller companies are learning how to adjust with the times some are being acquired by competitors or working directly with them as a tertiary supplier.
Top Auto Suppliers
The report found that Robert Bosch GmbH, based in Stuttgart, Germany, made the most money by US dollars of any company, pulling in $36,787,000,000 in 2012.
Bosch is a huge supplier of injection systems and also supplies battery technology, chassis system controls, motors, generators, electronics, and other key parts. If not a household name, Bosch is an industry name of renown.
Japans Denso Corp. follows closely behind Bosch, a provider of electronic and electrical systems, telecommunications, powertrain control and small motors.
Denso is followed in third place by Continental AG, a German manufacturer of stability management systems, tires, chassis systems, instrumentation, brakes, telematics and other key parts.
The fourth and fifth spots are held by Magna International Inc. and Aisn Seiki Co. The Canadian based Magna has been in the news in recent years as it was a one-time suitor for Chrysler before Fiat stepped in.
Magna is best known for building vehicle bodies, chassis, interiors, and exteriors, electronics, and mirrors. Aisin, from Japan, makes body, brake and chassis systems, drivetrain and engine components, and electronics. The top five global auto suppliers each pulled in at least $30 billion for 2012.
US Auto Suppliers
Johnson Controls occupies the sixth spot and also had the highest sales among any US manufacturer at $22,515,000,000. Johnson is well known for vehicle seating and also builds overhead systems, door and instrument panels, and hybrid vehicle batteries. Lear at $14.567 billion follows, a builder of seating and electrical power systems.
Other US manufacturers of note include TRW Automotive, a steering and suspension system manufacturer that also makes braking components; Delphi, a powertrain, safety, and electronics manufacturer, and Cummins, a supplier of diesel and natural gas engines to the automotive industry.
Dana Holding Corp, BorgWarner, Inc., Visteon Corp., Tenneco Inc., and Flex-N-Gate Corp. are additional big-time auto suppliers based in the United States.
Product Auto Suppliers
Automotive manufacturers build some parts in-house, but there is one part that they always leave up to the rubber manufacturers: tires. Continental, Goodyear, and Michelin are the largest suppliers to the industry, often with their eponymous tires and many times with their wholly owned competing brands.
Some companies specialize or seem to dominate in certain areas. Bayer, for example, is the largest supplier of adhesives, Van-Rob Industries provides welded assemblies, and SRG Global serves up grilles and nameplates. Sunroofs are supplied by several manufacturers including Webasto and Mitsuba.
Grede Holdings manufactures bearing arms, Clarion Corp. offers infotainment systems, Superior Industries supplies aluminum wheels, Visteon manufactures climate control systems, and aluminum manufacturer Alcoa provides hoods and trunks.
Auto Suppliers: Influence and Strength
All told, OEMs and auto suppliers account for trillions of dollars in sales annually. Most of us own one or more cars, buy new ones every few years, upgrade our rides with aftermarket parts, and replace worn OEM parts with new ones such as tires, brakes, and exhaust systems.
It is an intricately woven industry that is also the backbone of many communities.