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Profile of Autoliv: Leader in Automotive Occupant Restraint Equipment
published in Issue 59, 3rd-4th quarters 2004
Autoliv, based in Sweden, is the world’s leading supplier of automotive occupant restraint equipment—including airbags, seatbelts, and their associated mechanisms and electronics. In 2003 the company generated sales of US$3.6 bn. Significantly, in the early years Autoliv supplied another Swedish manufacturer, Volvo, whose cars are generally associated with safety above all other factors—including speed, comfort and aesthetics. Autoliv serves a large and growing market worth an estimated US$16 bn in 2004. Within this total, frontal airbags accounted for 36% of total sales, side airbags for 14%, seatbelts for 29% and electronics for 21%.
Autoliv introduced one of the first seatbelt systems as long ago as 1956. Since then it has grown—organically, and through mergers and acquisitions—to become the biggest player in this field. The most notable development was in 1997 when Autoliv merged with Morton ASP (Automotive Safety Products)—the leading airbag manufacturer in North America and Asia—to become Autoliv Incorporated.
Today Autoliv has approximately 80 wholly- or partially-owned restraint equipment manufacturing facilities in 29 vehicle producing countries. Its operations are highly automated, which enables it to manufacture products at low cost in high wage countries. However, the company has also been pursuing a policy of relocating its manufacturing operations to countries where wages are low. As part of this policy, the company has moved 5,000 jobs from Western Europe to Eastern Europe over the last two years.
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