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As forecast at the beginning of 2004, Bosch seems on track to become the clear global leader in the automotive supplier sector in 2004.

Bernd Bohr, the board member responsible for the automotive sector, said that Bosch expects to get a sales increase of more than 7% in its automotive technology division this year, to just over €25 billion.

At the average Euro/dollar exchange rate of the year to date ($1.22 to the € = $30.5 billion) that will comfortably take Bosch ahead of last year’s global number one supplier Delphi, which is expected to see automotive sales of less than $29 billion.

In the first eight months Bosch saw sales up 5% in Germany and 11% outside Germany. Research and development spending at Bosch is expected to grow to €2.3 billion in 2004, 9.3% of sales.

In total Bosch group sales are expected to grow to just under €40 billion in 2004, partly due to new, non-automotive consolidations.

Bosch released the numbers at the Hannover trucks show last week. Bosch is benefiting from the growth in the truck business which saw sales up 10% in the first half of 2004, said Bohr.

Bosch expects to have worldwide sales of more than €3.5 billion in commercial vehicle products in 2004, he said. One of the major drivers for Bosch’s commercial vehicle business has been demand for diesels, with more sophisticated diesels being required for new emissions norms.

Bosch production of unit injection systems for commercial vehicles (CVs) grew from 380,000 in 2003 to an expected 460,000 units in 2004, while production of common rail systems for CV applications grew from 580,000 to 770,000 units.

Bosch expects common rail systems to spread from 50% of light/medium to 80% in the medium term, and heavy duty applications growing from 20% of production to 50%.

Bosch has 15 engine projects with its common rail system in development in China for example, and has invested in common rail manufacturing in India.

Euro 3 norms will be required in Brazil and India from 2005, and they will be applied to urban areas in China from 2006, and the whole country from 2008.

Bosch international presence and the advanced products it is introducing worldwide “add additional thrust to our business with truck equipment”, said Bohr.

Delphi also reported strong growth in commercial vehicle business in the first six months of 2004, booking more than $2 billion worth of new business.

That compares with $1.5 billion of business booked by Delphi in the commercial vehicle sector in the first half of 2003. Booked business is defined as revenue from a contract over an average of five years, according to Delphi.

Delphi has a focus on commercial vehicle customers, says JT Battenberg, president and CEO of Delphi. In addition to its diesel business Delphi has been working with commercial vehicle makers on new product areas such as blind spot detection, with its forewarn technologies, and other safety products to assist drivers of heavy commercial vehicles.

Delphi supplies a range of modules and systems to the automotive industry and is now offering HVAC technology in the European commercial vehicle market, according to executives at the Hannover Truck Show.

DaimlerChrylser’s 2005 Atego truck will use Delphi HVAC technologies, including control head and Bowden cables for the first time in Europe.

“Our technology is designed to last beyond one million kilometres allowing our customers to get the maximum use out of their systems”, said Brad Maggart, global director Delphi commercial vehicles systems.

Delphi has been working to toughen its technologies to meet commercial vehicle demands with durability and performance in adverse environments.

ZF (which includes ZF Friedrichshafen and ZF Sachs) already has 21% of its sales to commercial vehicle OEMs (over 6 tonnes gross vehicle weight) – €1.9 billion according to the company.

ZF expects production of heavy commercial vehicles (over 6 tonnes GVW) to grow by 12% in Europe, 14% in China and 22% in NAFTA, the company said.

Sales in the business area commercial vehicle drive technology grew by 11% in the first eight months of the year.

All of the main business areas had seen growth, the company said, with one of the fastest growing areas being the car driveline technology.

In the first eight months of 2004 ZF saw sales up 10% and for the full year ZF is forecasting growth in group sales up 8%.