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Bosch looks to Japanese customers for growth

Bosch looks to Japanese customers for growth

German supplier Robert Bosch aims to double sales in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020, as the company taps expanding international business with Japanese automakers.

Bosch is cashing in on a trend of modularized vehicle development spurring demand for high volumes of single parts from well-established global megasuppliers.

Bosch’s Asia-Pacific sales rose 6 percent to €11.1 billion ($15.05 billion) in 2013, accounting for 24 percent of the company’s worldwide sales and making the region No. 2 for Bosch behind Europe.

The goal is to double regional sales by 2020, Bosch Japan President Herbert Hemming said at a June press event.

Sales to Japanese automakers will climb 10 percent this year, he predicted. That business would outpace the 3 to 5 percent overall growth Bosch is forecasting for 2014.

Fueling the expansion will be sales of gasoline direct-injection systems, automotive sensors for safety and drivetrain uses and infotainment technologies, Hemming said.

Bosch expects the fastest growth with Japanese carmakers to come in emerging markets. The company is able to use its international factories to win business from traditional Japanese suppliers that lack the same overseas reach.

Demand is surging for megasuppliers who can churn out huge volumes of the same part worldwide. Carmakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Corp. are overhauling their product development strategies to use more common parts in various vehicles.

Udo Wolz, executive vice president for technology at Bosch Japan, cited one example in which Bosch consolidated the supply of 80 windshield wiper types to just 10 for one manufacturer. He declined to name that customer.

Bosch’s development of sensors for such systems as vehicle stability and engine control will aid the gradual rollout of autonomous driving technologies, Hemming said.

By 2020, Bosch will have technologies capable of delivering autonomous driving on high-speed roadways, he said.

“Initial applications related to high automated driving are set to hit the market sooner than expected,” Hemming said. “By 2020, we will make automated driving functionally available for our customers also in higher speeds on the freeway.”