After withdrawing from the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exposition in January 2000, Yazaki North America Inc. announces at the Convergence electronics conference it will return as an exhibitor in 2003.

It was great news for the SAE. Its World Congress has suffered a dramatic loss of major Tier 1 exhibitors and seen a fall-off in attendance from its traditional core audience of auto maker engineers in recent years.

“If you're not a part of the solution, you're part of the problem. We made ourselves an integral part of the solution,” says Yazaki North America President and CEO George Perry.

“SAE listened and responded by implementing several enhancements that exceeded our expectations,” he says.

The primary reason big suppliers such as Yazaki, Delphi Corp., Visteon Corp., Lear Corp., Dana Corp., Siemens VDO Automotive and Robert Bosch Corp., pulled their exhibits from SAE is because they found it more cost-effective to do private showings of their technologies at customer sites, rather than set up booths at public trade shows.

For 2003, the U.S. Big 3 auto makers, as well as BMW AG and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., promise elaborate exhibits, and they say their engineering employees will be strongly encouraged to attend the Congress.

Steven A. Yaeger, SAE's manager-sales, marketing and corporate public relations, says he expects a number of other major Tier 1s to make similar announcements in the near future. TRW Automotive is contemplating a return to SAE in 2004, if the OEMs deliver on their promise to boost attendance in '03.