Figures for the automotive sales of leading global automotive suppliers in 2006 show that Bosch has opened a comfortable lead over its peers, according to the annual ranking compiled by SupplierBusiness.

Although Bosch has yet to report final details of its Automotive Technology sales in 2006, total corporate sales for the year have been given as EUR43.7bn (US$57.7bn as of 31 December 2006), indicating automotive-only sales of close to EUR27.1bn (US$35.8bn).

This puts Bosch comfortably ahead of second-placed Denso, which is estimated to have had automotive sales of ¥3,423bn (US$28.8bn) in its fiscal year just ended on 31 March 2007. Denso's automotive sales account for just under 98% of the group total.

In third position was bankrupt Delphi, with actual 2006 sales of US$26.4bn, reflecting a reduction in sales to GM (of US$1.2bn) and the withdrawal from certain businesses no longer regarded as core.

SupplierBusiness said that Delphi could well slip a number of places in the rankings in 2007 as its withdrawal from non-core product lines, including brake & chassis systems, catalysts, cockpits and instrument panels, door modules and latches, ride dynamics, steering and wheel bearings, takes hold. Since the beginning of 2007, the company has already disclosed potential buyers for its steering and halfshaft business (sales of US$2.59bn in 2006) and the interiors and closures business (sales of US$1.3bn in 2006). Absence of these businesses alone through 2006, would have lowered the supplier's ranking to around fifth.

Similarly, Visteon is continuing to sell businesses (chassis operations in Europe and Brazil, announced in March 2007), and Dana has recently concluded the sale of its engine hard parts business to Mahle. This business generated revenues of around US$670m for Dana. The same supplier has also recently announced the divestment of its fluid products hose and tubing operations, which had 2006 sales of around US$270m.

Magna took fourth place in the sales ranking league in 2006, but appears well placed to improve this position in 2007 by overtaking the shrinking Delphi.

Johnson Controls also looks well placed to improve further, although its growth strategy remains focused on its expanding non-automotive Building Efficiency operations.

Michelin was ahead of Bridgestone in the 2006 ranking, to take the number-one tyre supplier berth, although in truth the revenue gap between them is probably narrower than the table indicates. Michelin's sales include some non-automotive sales (maps and guides) while Bridgestone's sales exclude its non-tyre business, some of which generates sales from automotive customers.

Aisin Seiki is continuing to grow significantly, its estimated sales in its 2006/07 fiscal year expected to be ahead around 12% from the recorded 2005/06 level, making it the third largest Japanese supplier behind Denso and Bridgestone.

The third largest European supplier in 2006 was Continental.

Edmund Chew