We like to track which OEM component suppliers are reaching out to end users in their marketing. Generally speaking, suppliers have been reluctant to go very far in this direction, preferring to focus on their direct customer, whether an automaker or a higher Tier supplier. We believe that there are some cases where a supplier could effectively build a relationship with end users, a la the “Intel Inside” model. The LA Auto Show, running from Nov. 19-28th, is a current venue for at least a few of these hardy souls, and we were interested to see that one is Faurecia, the France-headquartered maker of seating, emissions control, interior and exterior products.
The pitch that Faurecia has selected for the past two press days at the show is “Clean is a Reality,” helping vehicles become cleaner by making them lighter and therefore more fuel-efficient, so it is definitely tailoring its message for the California audience. The advances that Faurecia is displaying include superthin seatbacks and cushions, low-weight instrument panel skin, thermoplastic exterior parts, and exhaust-heat recovery technology. The interior parts seem the most likely to be of interest, although who knows, maybe there is a broad-based fascination in California for the finer points of thermoelectric generators that convert heat from exhaust gases to electricity for faster cabin-heating. Based on our past observation, most suppliers that have engaged in this type of consumer outreach are manufacturers of something that the end users can actually see and feel, so the most common are interiors, sound systems (Blaupunkt, Bose), electronics (JCI, Valeo key fobs), seats (Recaro, Lear, Setex), brakes (Brembo), safety (Continental Teves), and tires (Michelin, Yokohama Tire – another LA Show exhibitor).
Like many auto show supplier displays, Faurecia is in the lobby of one of the halls, so we wouldn’t be surprised if consumers brush by without noticing. We’re sure that it is emphasizing that message for the benefit of the OEMs who are actually in the halls as well. Whether this is part of a larger campaign remains to be seen – I guess we’ll have to keep an eye on Faurecia’s newly launched Facebook page to see where they show up next!