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September 16, 2009

FRANKFURT SHOW: Suppliers need to manage their way through crisis

The economic crisis and downturn in car manufacturing has been tough on suppliers with even the largest companies facing insolvency, but the key to staying afloat is taking the right actions at the right time, TRW sales and business development chief Peter Lake thinks.

The economic crisis and downturn in car manufacturing has been tough on suppliers with even the largest companies facing insolvency, but the key to staying afloat is taking the right actions at the right time, TRW sales and business development chief Peter Lake thinks.

He said: “We have made sure we stay focused on what we are good at in terms of chassis and safety systems and not being diverted into areas beyond our expertise.

“We need to emerge from this economic crisis and suppliers large and small need to take a good look at their balance sheets to ensure they stay in business. That involves making the right choices about where the business is going – just because you can maybe afford to do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.

“Equally companies need to keep re-investing in product research and development, you can’t cost-cut your way to prosperity.”

Lake said that TRW’s focused expertise and geographic diversity was helping the company through the crisis.

“The North American auto industry has suffered badly but there and in Europe production is picking up again while we have a strong presence in China.”

TRW has been in China for more than 20 years and supplies both domestic and foreign carmakers in the country.

“We have full engineering operations there as well as production. We also have test facilities and tracks.

“Overall, however, TRW is almost unique in safety in that we have full systems capability. We can supply everything rather than single component parts.”

Lake added that the company was expanding its electronics business by developing brakes and steering systems as well as further developing reactive safety and driver aid technology.

“As we see increasing numbers of electric vehicles so electronics will become more sophisticated. Steering is a particularly interesting area because EVs will need some sort of engine-independent power assistance.”

Autonomous car some time away

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