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May 3, 2000

1 Min Read
Tier One suppliers make a statement at SAE

Look no further than this year’s SAE show to prove that the automotive industry has truly undergone major changes. Most exhibitors at this year’s gathering boasted the title of Tier One supplier or integrator, evidence of this segment’s recent rise to prominence. Brand-name interior and audio systems proliferated as the top suppliers flexed their muscles with innovative product design and development, a category that formerly belonged solely to the Fords, Chryslers, and GMs of the world.

In the foreseeable future, consumers may be able to order a vehicle with a Lear seating package, Visteon instrument panel, and Valeo front-end module, asking for these modules by name. At this point, though, it’s clear that these suppliers are injecting a new creative energy into vehicle design, as seen in the images shown here.

Against this hopeful backdrop, several key issues continue to plague automotive engineers, according to DuPont Automotive/SAE’s sixth annual survey. While designers are confronted with current emissions and safety regulations, survey results point out that cost reduction, again, is the top industry challenge for 50 percent of auto engineers and designers. This same percentage of respondents identified low costs as the most important quality automakers seek when choosing a supplier.

Underlying the cost concern is a move toward closer relationships between OEMs and suppliers. Walter Fields, vp, DuPont Automotive, explains, "The trend toward systems integration has helped drive out cost and improve performance, but the key to long-term growth for this industry revolves around enhancing overall value-chain relationships." Fields believes that all suppliers in the value chain need to be treated as partners to allow the industry to create competitive advantage and higher value for consumers.

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