Bosch sees its automotive supplier top spot threatened image

Germany’s Robert Bosch is the No. 1 automotive supplier in the world, but that spot comes with numerous woes and responsibilities, which is why the car parts division has a new incoming leader – Rolf Bulander.

The industry-leading unit is currently positioned at the forefront of auto innovation and come April the successor of Wolf-Henning Scheider will also get increased business authority. That’s needed because Bosch has its problems: a company that has been around since the start of the automobile is now swinging between its traditional roots that assured its global position and the rapidly changing landscape that comes with the demands of the increasingly digital world we live in. Bosch, a privately held company, has been struggling to achieve its current goal of an 8 percent operating margin for more than a decade. Other Tier-1 rivals have been more successful in the cost-cutting drive, with German competitor Continental for example reporting 2014 adjusted earnings before interest and tax margin of more than 11 percent.

Bosch also has to deal with the emergence as closest competitor of Germany’s ZF Friedrichshafen, which is currently acquiring driver-assistance and safety specialist TRW Automotive to form the world’s second largest auto parts supplier. Bosch is “well positioned in general and have the core issues in view, but they have to get used to the changes going on in the industry,” comments Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management in Bergisch Gladbach in Germany. They also have to be on the lookout for unconventional competitors – after even mobile devices giant Apple Inc. is reportedly developing its own electric car since late last year.

Automotive News Europe