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Trends in the automotive industry

"Trends in the automotive industry - and the consequences for the local suppliers“, that was the topic of an event with about 100 visitors the SIHK (Chamber of Industry and Commerce, South Westphalia) and KIRCHHOFF Automotive had invited to.

Developing light weight concepts, further reduction of energy consumption and emissions: These are the basic current challenges for the automotive industry, as the international market with its enormous innovative and competitive pressure resembles a continuous battle zone - with consequences also for the supplier companies that are also facing continuously growing requirements.
Now the SIHK (Chamber of Industry and Commerce, South Westphalia) and KIRCHHOFF Automotive had therefore invited leaders from science, economics and administration to the premises of the company to discuss the topic in the context of a "business breakfast". "Trends in the automotive industry - and its consequences for the local suppliers", that was the basic topic of the event with about 100 visitors. The focus was a report by J. Wolfgang Kirchhoff, Managing Partner of KIRCHHOFF Automotive.

Modular structures offer chances and risks

An important trend: the modular-system production method used by many manufacturers offers high efficiency because the same parts can be used in different models. "If you look at old models of Opel Astra, for examle, formerly there were about 700 car body variants. Today there are 27“, says Kirchhoff. For the suppliers - like KIRCHHOFF Automotive - this means chance and risk at the same time. For example, it might become problematic if certain produced capacities do not appear in the successor model any more - and therefore production must be reorganized. Regarding emissions Kirchhoff outlined  the further development until the year 2020 with a light wink: "Probably we will then produce more fine dust in a barbecue than when driving a car.“ In total, power plants, households and industry would pollute the environment to the greatest extent. "However, cars are always a welcome scapegoat.“

Despite light weight design vehicles are more and more heavy

In this context, Kirchhoff also outlined the still continuing trend to cars getting heavier again, that as a consequence despite economic engines can only present a relatively decreasing gas consumption - despite light weight design in the car body. The reason: "The increased demand for comfort and safety systems. Some vehicles in the meantime have 40 engines alone with respective weight.“ For effective manufacturing, above all the ability to deal with several materials is decisive: steel, aluminum and different plastics. In this context, said Kirchhoff, one would also have to make certain concessions owed to competition - like e. g. decentralizing development and manufacturing, closer to the place where the final product car is assembled in the end. "Well, that's competition“, said Kirchhoff. For relatively small providers regarding the global market, like KIRCHHOFF Automotive, it was especially important to work effectively and innovatively to remain.

KIRCHHOFF Automotive is one of the leading suppliers for complex metal and hybrid structures for car bodies. In eleven countries the company as part of the KIRCHHOFF Group has more than 30 production plants for most different parts.

Source: IKZ, 23.10.2014

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