Yet another player will enter the crowded but growing market for fully assembled cockpit modules. Robert Bosch GmbH will apply its electronic expertise to the complex task that automakers are asking suppliers to fulfill.

The German supplier has landed a contract to supply its first cockpit module for a high-volume moderately priced European vehicle in 2003. Company executives would not identify the vehicle or customer but say Bosch likely will lease space near the customer's plant to assemble the module then ship it just in time, in sequence.

Bosch already has a partner to do the injection molding for the instrument panel. Bosch also will supply its own instrument gages for the module, another first for the company.

The module will include a flat-panel screen for controlling the audio system, HVAC and optional navigation system. Audio specialist Blaupunkt, a division of Bosch, will supply the audio and navigation components.

Why the interest in a market that's already competitive? Because OEMs are inviting Bosch to bid on cockpit business, the company says.