Thousands of independent companies supply the auto parts industry. The industry has evolved from corner hardware stores supplying nuts and bolts for inventors to a global industry that has grown to supply total vehicle systems.
Auto parts range from the smallest fasteners to the largest body panels. They can be purchased from OEM or aftermarket. Automotive suppliers operate on all continents other than Antarctica.
Automotive suppliers are dominated by the United States, Germany and Japan. These three countries account for about a third of the auto parts industry. They also account for about twenty percent of the auto parts produced worldwide.
Auto parts exports grew at an average annual rate of 12.7% from 2001 to 2005. They reached $220 billion in 2005.
Auto parts are exported to Western Europe, Japan and the United States. The United States is the largest market for auto parts, accounting for about half of all imports.
The United States and Canada accounted for 82 percent of parts sourced in 2005. The Big Three auto companies used a combined 91 percent of U.S./Canada sourced parts in 1995.
As with other industries, consolidation has occurred in the auto parts industry. Industry analysts believe that fewer than 100 major suppliers will remain by 2010.
The largest auto parts builders in 2006 were Robert Bosch, GmbH and Denso. Denso also challenged Delphi as the second largest global supplier.
A report by the Reuters Autos Summit in September 2006 stated that consolidation was inevitable in the U.S. The keiretsu structure in Japan allows car manufacturers to retain exclusive relationships with suppliers.