The auto parts industry manufactures a wide range of products used in cars. These include engines, transmissions, power trains, air-conditioning systems and a variety of other components and accessories. These parts are made in the United States, Canada and other countries around the world.
During the period from 1997 to 2005, domestic shipments of automotive and truck parts grew at an average rate of 1.73 percent annually, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the total market value of these shipments was $200.3 billion in 2005.
A large number of companies produce parts for the industry, including suppliers who make original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or original equipment supplementary (OES) products. Parts producers employ nearly 920,000 people in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are also a wide variety of independent manufacturers who produce a wider array of parts than those made by OEMs. Some of these are producers of performance parts, while others focus on cost-cutting competitors to OEMs.
Most of the major auto parts producers are now based in North America. Delphi Automotive Systems, a former subsidiary of General Motors, and Visteon Corporation, which was acquired by Ford in 1999 and then became independent in 2000, are among the largest global suppliers.
These companies serve a wide variety of customers, including the Big Three auto makers, as well as smaller independent and foreign vehicle builders. Many of these companies have experienced bankruptcies, mergers or acquisitions in recent years, resulting in a shrinking pool of suppliers serving the industry.
Another factor that has weakened the auto parts sector is the emergence of China as a major supplier of automobile components. This has exacerbated the already-challenging situation.
In addition, there has been a substantial increase in trade deficits with countries such as Japan, which has more than doubled its reliance on imports of automotive parts and components over the past decade.
Despite these challenges, the industry still produces millions of vehicles every year in the United States and abroad. This makes the United States one of the leading exporters of auto parts.
The auto parts industry is a highly diverse and complex sector that employs a large number of workers, as well as many small and medium-sized businesses. It is also a highly cyclical industry.
A few of the major companies that are a leading part of the auto parts industry are Visteon, Delphi Automotive Systems and Mitsubishi Electric. These are the three largest auto parts producers in the United States and Europe.
Each company has a broad range of products, including chassis systems, climate controls, electrical and electronics, fuel and engine management systems, exterior/interior systems, steering and suspension, and cockpits. They each employ a large workforce and generate significant sales revenues.
The auto parts industry is a dynamic one, undergoing rapid change as vehicles become increasingly advanced and sophisticated. This changes the nature of parts produced and requires a change in the ways they are manufactured.