In the driver's seat - Norwegian automotive companies in the fast lane

Next time you see an automobile on the highway, there is a good chance that one or more parts of that vehicle have been manufactured in Norway. The level of technology and quality in the country within the automotive industry is excellent, and is a fast growing business sector here.

 In 2007 the automotive industry in Norway accounted for nearly USD 3 billion in sales, and this industry that has been a well-kept secret is now beginning to get the attention it deserves on the international level. The reasons for this positive development are numerous. Norwegian automotive companies have their finger on the pulse of the needs of the international market – and they are able to deliver within a wide spectre of areas.
 
Clear Road Ahead
The member organization of automotive activities in Norway is Norpart, led by Lars Stenerud from Plasto. Norpart has launched the project Arena Automotive with support financing from Innovation Norway and the Federation of Norwegian Industries. Arena Automotive functions as a virtual and physical meeting place for companies, academia, and the R&D environment, providing guidance and support to the industry (see Arena Automotive partner page).   One important project includes Innovation Automotive SME, a network and innovation project bringing together industrial SME’s working together with the R&D sector in order to enhance competence and innovation within the Norwegian automotive industry.
 
Another Arena Automotive initiative includes the Visualization and Branding Project (VBP), led by Project Manager Odd Myklebust. VBP activities include a series of seminars focused on the continued development of cooperative alliances with the Japanese and Canadian automotive sectors and profiling the Norwegian automotive industry as a recognized ‘brand’ with very high competence within fields such as e.g. lightweight materials and electronics. According to Odd Myklebust, “The VBP project is a coordinated effort between Arena Automotive and this country’s automotive industry focused on innovation, sustainability and technology – with the goal of continuing to increase the use of Norwegian automotive products internationally.” 

Kongsberg Automotive is on the top 100 list of the largest automotive supplier companies in the world.
© Kongsberg Automotive

All routes are Open
Norwegian companies can be found worldwide and cover the entire spectrum when it comes to the automotive industry, illustrated by just some of the many companies mentioned in this article.
 
Kongsberg Automotive is on the top 100 list of the largest automotive supplier companies in the world. Kongsberg Automotive provides engineering, design and manufacture of a wide range of products related to seat comfort, driver and motion control systems, fluid assemblies, and industrial driver interface products. The company’s product line includes systems for seat comfort, clutch actuation, cable actuation, gear shifters, transmission control systems, stabilizing rods, couplings, electronic engine controls, speciality hoses, tubes and fittings.
 
The world-renowned Hydro Aluminium Structures brings innovative solutions to the automotive industry in form of lightweight aluminium products and applications in the areas of crash management, heat exchange tubing, powertrain and suspension parts. Fundo Wheels AS is a company that produces aluminium wheels to the upper market in the European automotive industry, and is the only industrial plant for wheels in Scandinavia. TI Automotive is the only global supplier of fully integrated fuel storage and delivery systems for cars and trucks and the leading supplier of fluid carrying systems for braking and powertrain applications to automakers worldwide. The numbers speak for themselves – approximately half of the 57 million cars built every year rely on TI Automotive's brake, fuel, and/or powertrain technology. 
 
Castings Technologies Farsund, earlier named Alcoa Automotive Castings is a company that combines a local presence with Alcoa’s global resources to provide customers with the best in technology, expertise and integrated solutions related to wheel suspension components for leading European automakers.
 
One globally recognized supplier is Norsk Extruding. Its products are sought after within the automotive, electronic, and mechanical industry and more, supplying injection and blow moulded products including components used for automotive, industrial and medical devices. 
 
Finding a Solution
Norwegians are adept at talking challenges and making the best of them – often coming up with an innovative solution at the same time. The well-known Norwegian model of collaboration and unique innovation and solution-oriented attitude of the highly skilled and well-educated Norwegian engineers are the Norwegian forte in a challenging industry sector. 
 
Devotek has a wide range of services to offer international customers. Working with a client during the entire process from idea to prototype to systematically tested and qualified product, the process of technical development is Devotek’s business. Another company working side by side with their customers is FIBO. FIBO is one of the leading Scandinavian suppliers of cast and machined aluminium components for the automotive powertrain sector and is focused on high value added components and assemblies and offering a one stop shopping facility from tool and process design to die casting, machining, testing and assembly.
 
Norwegian expertise goes far beyond traditional automotive parts, with one success area being material technology. A supplier of theory, experience and skills, RTIM (Raufoss Technology and Industrial Management) is a company delivering expertise and competence within manufacturing, materials technology, technology management and various laboratory and workshop services. Customer satisfaction is the company’s highest priority. RTIM’s customers are both private companies and public institutions. One of the owners is the SINTEF Group which is the largest independent research organisation in Scandinavia with approximately 2000 employees covering research fields from materials to electronics, ICT, logistics, manufacturing and product development.
 
Plasto is on the cutting-edge of design and functionality within a wide area of thermoplastic products.
© Plasto
Materials Make the Car
Norwegian Centre of Expertise (NCE) Raufoss is an expert centre within advanced light materials and automated manufacturing. The goal is that all of the companies participating remain highly competitive in the international market. NCE Raufoss is managed by RTIM, together with the innovation centre Gjøvik Kunnskapspark AS.
 
Plasto has supplied the car industry with thermoplastic products for many years, offering the expertise of a specialized production division prepared to tackle the scale and complexity of customer needs. Technology and sustainability is in focus as the need for environmentally recyclable material is on the increase. The company’s thermoplastic products are recyclable and has advantageous qualities in terms of design — shaping, strength, weight and economy. The car industry has been in the forefront of the use of new materials and techniques.
 
Looking Towards the Future
Norpart, and their strategic project Arena Automotive, is focused on the present in their capacity of representing the Norwegian automotive industry – and one of their strategies in this role is to plan for the future through a series of R&D projects that have been initiated and are supported by the Research Council of Norway. These projects are varied in nature, and include “Alupart”, looking to develop even further the intelligence and adaptable production of car parts. This cooperative project includes the companies Hydro Aluminium Structures Raufoss, Fundo Wheels, Raufoss Technology and Steertec Raufoss.
 
Other R&D projects include the further development of the Driveline Control Unit, a control unit with integrated clutch and gearbox service that will automate the manual transmission on utility vehicles, with Kongberg Automotive and Devotek in the drivers seat; automated product units for composite connections (KA Raufoss Couplings, Plasto and Tronrud Engineering); Kongberg Automotive’s study of crash-systems in trucks, and Raufoss Fuel System’s research concerning the function valve and regulator systems for very high pressure hydrogen fuel.
 
THINK is changing the way people look at their vehicles.
© THINK

Environmentally Sustainable
Typically Norwegian is the environmental awareness, and Raufoss Fuel Systems is a leading developer and manufacturer of complete storage systems for alternative fuels, offering products with a test-driven track record and concepts that are geared towards cost-effective mass production. One automotive company currently moving into the passing lane is Think, a Norwegian auto innovator with plans to produce 30,000 electric cars yearly by 2012.
 
The Norwegian automobile company THINK is changing the way that people look at their vehicles. The wave of the future is focus on the environment and sustainable products, and THINK vehicles not only features zero emissions, they are produced in a low carbon Norwegian factory, assisted by non other than Porsche Consulting in making the process the smoothest and most effective possible. People who drive a THINK not only are making a statement that they care about society and the environment, they are also saying quite clearly that they demand efficiency and functionality.

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