Visteon's intention from launch in December 1997 was to work towards building its non-Ford business to 20% of total original equipment sales. At present, Ford accounts for 87% of its business, but a spokeswoman said Visteon was “on target to achieve its objective” by 2002.
Malcolm Wall, director of sales and marketing UK and overseas for Visteon European Aftermarket Operations, said the relationship with Ford had “an obvious knock-on effect to a strong aftermarket presence, especially with franchised dealers”.
He hopes to continue this success in the aftermarket, encompassing both the franchised and independent sectors. Visteon's three main aftermarket product areas are climate control (including aircon and heating systems), chassis and powertrain products, and multi-media (including entertainment, audio and visual systems).
While the company is experiencing increasing sales in chassis and powertrain products, climate control and multimedia represent the greatest potential for growth. “They are young markets,” said Mr Wall. “There is big demand from the consumer for these products. We plan to capitalise on growing OE fitment by appointing specialist dealers in the aftermarket.
“We have a comprehensive list of Ford products and are expanding the range to other manufacturers, in particular the big European carmakers like Volkswagen and General Motors,” he added.
Franchised dealers have “an important role” to play, handling vehicles for parts retrofit, servicing or repair. “There is a big opportunity for franchised dealers to sell fitting kits, either to install themselves or work in co-operation with independent specialists – we want to increase our sales with franchised dealers,” said Mr Wall. “There is also growing demand for specialist retailers to service and sell aircon systems.”
Acquisitions and joint ventures – Visteon is talking to Pilkington about a joint venture where the glassmaker would assume majority ownership and management control of Visteon's glass division – could play an important role in future growth. “Any venture would need to fit into our product areas, offer real benefits and fill a gap in our technology,” said the spokeswoman.
Mr Wall added: “We are focused on what we are doing in the UK aftermarket. We have determined our growth segments, and we have a good acceptance of our brand name in the sector.”