Japanese suppliers in Western Europe: Meeting increasing demands for electrification and others

Acquisitions, tie-ups, collaborations, and R&D activities to expand business in the European market



Germany automobile plant map (Click to open site map)
For countries and regions other than Germany please refer to the map entitled ‘OEM Plants Interactive Map

 According to LMC Automotive, light vehicle sales in 17 Western European countries decreased slightly by 0.7% from the previous year to 14.19 million units in the January to December 2018 period. Total sales volumes from January to March 2019 were 5 million units, down 2.9% YoY.

 In the midst of this business climate, Japanese auto parts suppliers are strengthening their production, sales and R&D systems in response to the increase in orders in the medium term. In addition, to capture new demand in the current situation due to changes such as the tightening of environmental and fuel economy regulations in Europe, electrification and autonomous driving, Japanese suppliers are engaged in various activities such as acquisitions, joint ventures, partnerships, and collaborative operations.

 With regards to electrification, Nidec established a joint venture with the PSA Group for the drive motors used in electrified vehicles such as EVs, and Keihin partnered with Horiba's UK site to strengthen its R&D system for EVs. Also, Horiba acquired a German company that is engaged in the development of test benches for EV batteries and fuel cells, and is strengthening its overall business related to measurement instruments for EVs.

 Materials supplier are also expanding their business in Europe to meet customer needs associated with electrification and weight reduction. Teijin acquired an automotive composite molding materials company in Portugal to expand its composite molding business in Europe. Toray launched a technology development center near Munich specializing in automotive materials. In addition, the company acquired a carbon fiber composite material manufacturer in the Netherlands. Sekisui Chemical is constructing a new plant in the Netherlands to manufacture thermal interface materials used in the production of lithium-ion batteries. New production lines will be added to the film production plant in the Netherlands and raw material resin plant that manufactures and sells interlayer films for laminated glass.

 Regarding the trends relating to autonomous driving and connectivity, Denso invested in Infineon Technologies, a power semiconductor giant, and partnered with digital map supplier TomTom to accelerate the development of technologies for autonomous driving features and next-generation vehicles. Hitachi Automotive Systems will transfer its power steering operations for commercial vehicles to Knorr-Bremse to focus on passenger cars and autonomous driving technologies.

 Associated with the Brexit situation, Panasonic announced its plans to move its European headquarters from the UK to the Netherlands. Media reports indicate that NSK is considering establishing a second manufacturing site in Europe to replace its site in the UK.

 Below are the recent trends of Japanese suppliers in Europe (excluding Central and Eastern Europe). (The information contained in this report was gathered from a variety of sources during the one year timeframe prior to March 2019)


Europe in general

New manufacturing sites Asahi Kasei: Currently constructing its first plant in Europe to manufacture fuel-efficient tires made with synthetic rubber, which is scheduled to go into production in 2021.
NSK: Considering establishing a second new manufacturing site in Europe to replace its site in the UK due to the Brexit situation.
Production capacity increase Toray: Increasing its production capacity of separators for lithium-ion secondary batteries.
Acquisitions and partnerships NTT Docomo: Collaborating with Valeo on businesses for connected cars.
Sumitomo Wiring System: Its India subsidiary acquired a French supplier for applications such as door panels, and will likely acquire a major German wiring harness supplier.
Denso: Invested in Infineon Technologies of Germany, a world leader in power semiconductors, to accelerate the development of technologies for next-generation vehicles, and partnered with digital map provider TomTom located in the Netherlands to collaborate on the development of features for autonomous driving.
Piolax: Signed a global production and sales cooperation agreement with Raymond of France for industrial fasteners.
Horiba: Acquired a German company to strengthen its overall business related to measurement instruments for electric vehicles, and is increasing its production capacity in Germany and the UK.
New product introductions and production system reinforcement Asahi Kasei: To supply foaming agents for battery peripheral parts to German OEMs. The company is also considering the acquisition of an engineering plastics compound materials supplier.
Ihara Electronics: Expecting to receive a large order for printed circuit boards for lithium-ion batteries for EVs in Europe.
NTN: Started production of precision bearings in Germany and will manufacture self-aligning roller bearings in Italy.
Business reinforcement and reorganization Sumitomo Rubber Industries: Plans to establish distribution warehouses and increased its number of dealers in the UK to expand its market share of the retail tire market.
NGK Spark Plugs: Identifying partners for new businesses and established an Innovation Center in Europe in the summer of 2019.
Panasonic: Moving its European headquarters from the UK to the Netherlands in preparation for the Brexit departure of the UK from the EU.



New product introduction and production system reinforcement Sankyo Tateyama: Manufacturing battery frames for VW’s electric vehicles, and strengthening its capability to supply extruded products made of medium and high strength alloys.
Toyo Tanso: Established a plant for automotive graphite materials at its German subsidiary.
Mitsubishi Electric: Increasing the supply of semiconductor chips to its German subsidiary producing power semiconductor modules.
M&A, investment, joint ventures, and  partnerships GS Yuasa: Decided to dissolve its JV with Bosch and Mitsubishi Corp. after concluding its joint venture development project for next-generation lithium-ion battery technologies for electrified vehicles.
JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp.: Acquired a German metal powders supplier and established a new core division for its rare metal materials product line.
Sekisui Plastics: Acquired the Proseat Group, a German automotive components supplier, to expand its European business.
Teijin Frontier: Acquired a major supplier of interior component materials in Germany, with plans to develop sound absorbing materials for EVs and expand sales in Europe.
Nidec: Acquired a German company for the manufacture of automotive ECUs in 2017, targeting to provide next-generation products with high performance and high reliability. Japan Vilene: Acquired a German floor mat supplier, securing several manufacturing sites in Europe.
Nippon Piston Ring: Transferred a portion of its shares in its consolidated subsidiary in Germany to Daido Metal to strengthen their collaborative relationship.
Hitachi Industry & Control Solutions (Hitachi-ITS): Signed a cooperation agreement with a German company to provide engineering services for autonomous driving.
Mitsubishi Steel: Acquired a German coil spring manufacturer in 2018, enabling it to enter the European market.
Renesas Electronics: Collaborating with HELLA Aglaia of Germany to develop on-board front cameras.
R&D and product development Eagle Industry: Opening its European R&D Center in 2019, and developing products such as mechanical seals for EV motors.
Daikin: Establishing a development site for fluoroplastic parts to support weight reduction and autonomous driving technologies
Daido Metal: Plans to establish a European technology unit and R&D center in Germany in 2023.
Toray: Opened a technology development center specializing in automotive materials in 2018 in the suburbs of Munich.
Toyo Tire: Establishing a new R&D center in the vicinity of Düsseldorf prior to initiating plans for the construction of a new plant.
Business and sales system reinforcement JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp.: Opened offices in Frankfurt to strengthen its IoT and AI related businesses.
Nifco: Merging its two German consolidated subsidiaries to unify its sales structure and expand business.
Hitachi Automotive Systems: Transferred its power steering business for commercial vehicles to Germany to focus on passenger cars and autonomous driving.
Marubun: Opening sales offices in Germany, and initiating the full-fledged sales of semiconductors and electronic parts for Japanese suppliers in Europe.


Western Europe (excluding Germany)

New manufacturing sites and production lines Sekisui Plastics: Constructing a plant in the Netherlands to manufacture thermal interface materials for lithium-ion batteries used in eco-friendly vehicles such as EVs.
Teijin: Establishing a new production line for the composite material GF-SMC at CSP Europe in France.
Production capacity increase Kaneka: Belgian subsidiary will expand production capacity for bead-type polyolefin particle foam to respond to the increased demand for more lightweight component materials.
Sanden: Transferred production of its first-generation electric compressor from Japan to its subsidiary in France.
Mitsubishi Chemical: Reactivated its plant for lithium-ion battery electrolytes in the UK, with plans to construct a plant on the European continent.
Sekisui Plastics: Establishing a new production line for interlayer films for laminated glass in the Netherlands, and increasing production capacity of raw resin materials.
Murata Manufacturingv: Expanding production capacity of MEMS sensors at its subsidiary in Finland to support safe driving.
Acquisitions, joint ventures, partnerships, and collaborations Aisin AW: Signed a production license agreement with a PSA subsidiary for AT.
Asahi Kasei Electronics: Acquired a Swedish manufacturer, and is pioneering automotive applications for CO2 sensors
Alfa: Acquired a door-related parts manufacturer in France, expanding its sales channels for painted door handles to European automakers
Keihin: In collaboration with Horiba MIRA of the UK, strengthening its R&D system for the entire EV systems.
Sanyo Special Steel: Acquired Swedish special steel manufacturer Ovako from Nippon Steel.
JVC Kenwood: Invested in Swiss-based WayRay, which handles in-vehicle cameras and head-up displays
Teijin acquired Inapal in Portugal to expand its composite material molding business in Europe.
Toray: Completed the acquisition of Dutch carbon fiber composite material supplier TCAC in July 2018.
Nichirin: Made its Spanish brake hose subsidiary wholly-owned.
Nidec: Established a joint venture with the PSA Group for drive motors used in electrified vehicles such as EVs in May 2018.
Bridgestone: Acquired TomTom Telematics’ fleet solutions business in the Netherlands, and partnered with Versalis for the commercialization of Guayule-derived natural rubber.
Sales system reinforcement JDI: Signed a memorandum of understanding with Faurecia to jointly market next-generation display screens for automated vehicle cockpits.
Diamond Electric: Opened sales offices in Luxembourg in 2018.


Related reports:
Tier 1 suppliers: Autonomous, Connected, and Mobility related businesses (Feb. 2019)
European Market: Decreasing diesel vehicle sales, and the shift to EVs (Dec. 2018)
European and U.S. Tier 1 suppliers: Electrification business trends (Jul. 2018)
2021-2030 CO2 regulations in Europe, backlash against diesel, and electrification (May 2018)

<Japanese Supplier Reports>
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  Japanese parts suppliers in Central and Eastern Europe: Expand business with European companies (Mar. 2018)
  Japanese suppliers in Western Europe: Meeting new demands for electrification and autonomous driving (Dec. 2017)