Delphi Automotive Customer Magazine Articles
Feature articles written by Richard Stewart
for Delphi Chassis Systems magazine Thinking Ahead
WHERE DEMAND SURGES
FOR PARTS, TECHNOLOGY
The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest-growing automotive
market in the world. China, with 1.2 billion people — over
a fifth of the world's population — is at the center of the
activity. Chinese vehicle production of 1.435 million units
last year was up 19% from the year before, and it is
expected to increase by a similar amount this year. Growth
is also seen in Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and other
countries in the vast region. A wealth of opportunity awaits
suppliers who are up to the challenges, according to Chuck
Ondrick, Delphi Chassis Director of International Operations.
FOCUSING ON CHINA
"Of the 16 major international operations projects we're
working on this year at Delphi Chassis, 11 are in the Asia-
Pacific region," says Ondrick. "That doesn't mean all of them
are going to come to fruition, but we expect a large number
of them to become real." Five of the 11 projects are in China:
two brake projects, two suspension projects and a project to
support Buick Regal production in the 1998 model year.
According to Ondrick, the primary objective of Delphi Chassis
in China is to establish enough components operations, both in
brakes and suspension, to be in a position to offer customers
integrated chassis systems. "We want to be able to supply our
customers with complete chassis corner modules, tested and
delivered just-in-time to their assembly plants," he notes.
"That's one of our major goals in all of Asia-Pacific."
He feels that Delphi Chassis is uniquely suited to take over the
ride and handling engineering tasks from OEMs, too. "We're in
the ride and handling business, and our combined experience
in brakes, suspensions and bearings — plus the steering expertise
that Delphi Saginaw provides — gives us an edge. There's
nobody else quite like us," he adds.
BOOMING IN KOREA
Growth of the Korean automotive industry also continues at an
astounding pace as the country advances in rank from sixth to
fifth among the world's largest manufacturers of cars and
commercial trucks. Daewoo Automotive Components (DAC)
is a 10-year-old joint venture between Daewoo and five Delphi
Automotive divisions, including Delphi Chassis, which serves as
the technical source for brake system components. DAC is
expected to have localized ABS by this fall.
In Japan, most Delphi Chassis efforts are in engineering. Based
at the Asian Technical Center (ASTEC) in Tokyo, each of the
Delphi Automotive divisions come together to share their expertise.
"That's what's so unusual about our organization — the sharing,"
Ondrick points out. "We share infrastructure as well as investment
and risk." ASTEC serves as an advanced-technology support
center for the entire region.
"In the Asia-Pacific region, we are looking for opportunities that
we can develop into profitable world-class businesses, whether as
joint ventures or wholly owned," he adds. "But long-term success
depends on satisfying the customer. That's true no matter where
in the world your global strategy may take you."
IN FARTHEST CORNERS
All others. That's how Chuck Ondrick, Delphi Chassis Systems
director of International Operations, describes the vast global
territory his team covers in pursuit of new business opportunities.
"Since our North American Operations and European Operations
are so well defined, I affectionately refer to International
Operations as the rest of the world," says Ondrick. His focus
these days is on Asia-Pacific, Mexico and South America.
"China is still a major push for us, but South America has
become extremely bullish right now," he relates. Delphi Chassis
recently launched its first manufacturing operation in Brazil,
supplying full chassis corner modules to GM do Brasil. "That
operation has provided us with the infrastructure we need in
Brazil to add new customers and continue growing the business."
Located less than 7 km. from GM's Corsa assembly plant in São
José dos Campos, the new Delphi Chassis operation packages
brakes, suspension and wheel bearings into modules and delivers
them just-in-time and in sequence directly to the assembly line,
Ondrick reports. He considers corner modules a key growth
product for the division, especially in developing countries.
"Global customers don't consider the corner module a core
product. They recognize the value in outsourcing it because they
need the factory floor space for expansion and don't want to be
bothered with inventory and managing the supply base," he notes.
"Customers are depending more and more on Tier One
suppliers who can design and assemble components into
complete, competitively priced modules and integrated systems
that add value. In chassis corners, I believe we're the only
company in the world with the experience and capabilities
needed to design the full product, source all the components
and do the assembly at a marketable cost."
Ondrick feels that Delphi Chassis needs to be aggressive in pursuing
business opportunities around the world. "We are a global company
with global customers that we want to follow around the world,"
he says. "Plus, you have emerging markets like China and India
that present extraordinary opportunities for selling automotive parts.
We've got to be there competing for that business."
Focusing on key customers and keeping them satisfied is a top
priority for Delphi Chassis. "It's tempting to go out and sell all over
the world to all different regional customers," he says. "But, as a
consequence, you end up without enough resources to devote to
key customers. I see us becoming even more oriented toward
satisfying our target customers."
Profitability is another important factor. "It's not good enough
to just say we want to be profitable. We're driving at quantifiable
goals, not just wishing. We won't go after business that does not
meet the profit requirements we've set unless it's tremendously
strategic and looks like it will lead to the return we want in the
Ondrick feels that Delphi Chassis is well positioned to grow
on a worldwide basis, especially in the area of modules and
integrated chassis systems, owing to the division's unique strengths
in ride and handling. "When you add in the tremendous advantages
that being part of Team Delphi gives us, I can't see how any of
our competition can match us product for product."