To paraphrase Garrett Morris's "Saturday Night Live" character, sunroofs have been very, very good to Inalfa Hollandia Inc. (IHI). The company has surpassed its own sales goals and expects to be doubling current production within three years.
The original equipment supplier, based in Farmington Hills, MI, was looking to double its 1991 sales of $25 million over the following five years, but already has become a $120 million company. It's also expanding to overseas markets by developing business in Europe and Asia. As a joint venture of two Dutch manufacturers, Inalfa BV and Vermeulen Hollandia, it had overseas roots.
"We started sending sunroofs tosix months ago," says Joseph R. Corace, IHI's president and chief executive officer. He says the Japan exports represent an expansion of the business it started on '95 models produced by Diamond-Star Motors Corp., the Mitsubishi Motors Corp.-owned manufacturer in Normal, IL. Inalfa supplies the DSM-made Mitsubishi Eclipse, Sebring, Dodge Avenger and Eagle Talon.
Other vehicles it supplies in North America are Pontiac Grand Prix, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Buick Regal, Saturn, Dodge/Plymouth Neon (beginning in 1996) and Jeep Grand Cherokee (also in Europe).
The Saturn contract propelled Inalfa into the No. 2 slot as supplier of OEM sunroofs in North America behind Webasto, says Mr. Corace.
"We're seeing penetration similar to Saturn (40%) on the (Diamond-Star) cars," says Mr. Corace. "We built 120,000 sunroofs in 1994 and should do 160,000 to 170,000 in 1995 and get to 300,000 by 1998."
He says the installation rate of sunroofs on North American-built vehicles climbed from 3% in 1985-'86 to about 7% in 1994.
"The hit rate will probably be about 8% this year," says Mr. Corace. "I don't think a 20% (installation) rate is outrageous to expect some day in North America."
Citing use in other regions, he says sunroofs are close to 60% penetration in Europe, and probably double the U.S. rate in Japan.
Although adding $200 to $300 to the manufacturers' cost of a vehicle, Mr. Corace does not see a let-up in sunroof demand, even in a downturn.
"People like push-button, open-air systems," he says. "They (sunroofs) also have great residual value." Also, Mr. Corace says a study done by Buick Motor Div. revealed an 80% repeat rate for sunroof buyers.
He would like to see the sunroof market open up more with minivans. The popularity of overhead consoles on minivans have been detrimental to designing sunroofs into them, says Mr. Corace. However, some minivans such as GM's APVs have sunroofs. Inalfa is pushing a design that creates a truncated console, leaving the electronic features overhead, and saysappears closest to committing.
Overseas, Inalfa plans to expand its presence in Japan by announcing a joint venture with a sheet-metal stamper for local support later this year, and will open a sales office.
Furthermore, the company plans to use its Korean joint venture as a springboard into other emerging markets such as China, Vietnam and India. The Korean joint venture is with Dong Yeng and started last fall. It supplies Daewoo Motor Co. Ltd. with about 50,000 units annually.
In Europe, the company has recently leased a plant in Birmingham, England, which will begin supplying Rover and Jaguar in late 1995. Inalfa also has opened an office in Paris.
AM Georgia plant opens
automated paint line
Exterior components supplier Automative Moulding Co. opens an $8.6 million, 12,000-sq.-ft. computer controlled automated paint line at its LaGrange, GA, plant. The facility has the capacity to paint large plastic injection-molded parts (such as bodyside moldings, rocker panels, claddings, running boards and rear quarter panels) up to 8 ft. long.
advance in ITS race
Teams led by Siemens Automative And Rockwell International Corp. make the final round in the competition to design a standard architecture for a national intelligent transportation system (ITS). Groups headed by Westinghouse Electric Co. and GM Hughes Electronics fail to make the cut. The Siemens and Rockwell teams move to Phase II of the derby, expected to end by summer in 1996.
Consumer give and
to auto-dimming mirrors
Ninety percent of consumers polled in a nationwide study commissioned by Gentex Corp. say auto-dimming mirrors make driving safer. Some 80% say both interior and exterior mirrors should dim automatically.