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Q: Automobile Mirror Business ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Automobile Mirror Business
Category: Business and Money
Asked by: infopros-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 14 Feb 2003 07:02 PST
Expires: 16 Mar 2003 07:02 PST
Question ID: 161318
I am looking for survey articles about the automobile mirror business,
recent trends and anything about what differentiates the technologies
for self dimming mirrors, especially the mirror technolgy of Gentex
versus the mirror technology of Magna Donnelly.  I need something
Subject: Re: Automobile Mirror Business
Answered By: nellie_bly-ga on 14 Feb 2003 13:09 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
I have been unable to find a comprehensive market study of automotive
mirrors in the time alloted. However, it is clear from a review of
available materials that the market for electrochromic mirrors is
healthy and growing. It is also clear that the US market is currently
dominated by Gentex  while Donnelly leads in Europe.  The recent
merger of Donnelly and Magna will certainly affect market share but
since Gentex has historically provideds Magna with electrochromic
mirrors the final market mix is far from clear.

As for trends in the market, electrochromic mirrors are now in
virtually all upscale vehicles and are quickly being included as OE in
more moderately priced models.  Other popular innovations include
heated outside mirrors, the inclusion of electronic readouts such as
compass direction and teperature on the rearview mirrors and "rear
view" cameras that provide a view of the back seat.

I could find no definitive article that contrasted the Gentex and
Donnelly products. It would SEEM that Gentex is based on the use of a
gel core and Donnelly is solid state, but I am not certain of this.

In order to meet your deadline, I have simply provided synopses and
links to materials found in an Internet search and a search of
periodicals and newspapers.

The only "overview" seems to be this article from the New York Times
Automobiles | February 11, 2000, Friday 
Mirror, Mirror, What Comes Next? 
 By JIM McCRAW (NYT) 565 words 
Late Edition - Final , Section F , Page 1 , Column 5 ABSTRACT -
Article on new developments and designs in automobile glass by Gentex
Corp, Donnelly Corp and Prince Corp
(There is a small fee to retrieve the full text of this article)

Other articles mostly focus on either Donnelly or Gentex mirrors.

What's new in the rear view mirror 
by Paul Williams 
VideoMirror camera-vision system from Michigan-based Donnelly

On October 1, 2002, Magna International acquired Donnelly Corporation.
Donnelly is the Company's major competitor for sales of
automatic-dimming rearview mirrors to domestic and foreign vehicle
manufacturers and their mirror suppliers. The Company also sells
certain automatic-dimming rearview mirror sub-assemblies to Magna and
Donnelly. At this time, it is too early to determine the impact, if
any, of Magna's acquisition of Donnelly upon the Company. 31, 2002

Electrochromic mirrors in the European Market. 
With respect to interior mirror systems, the partiesí data indicates a
combined market share of approx. [40-50]% by volume and [40-50]% by
value in the EEA for interior mirrors. Prior to the transaction, Magna
is a smaller competitor with a market share of [>10]% (vol.) and
[5-15]% (value), while Donnelly is the market leader with [40-50]%
(vol.) and [30-40]% (value). Other significant competitors include
Ficosa International SA with [10-20]% (vol.) and [5-15]% (value),
Schefenacker AG with [10-20]% (vol.) and [10-20]% (value), Engelmann
with [5-15]% (vol.) and [5-15]% (value), and Gentex with [>10]% (vol.)
and [10-20]% (value).

In terms of vertical relationships, Donnelly and Gentex are the only
two suppliers to mirror manufacturers in the EEA of electrochromic
mirror glass which is a specialised technology used to reduce glare
from the lights of approaching vehicles which is used in mirrors for
certain higher-end automobiles. Although both companies are vertically
integrated with respect to the production of electrochromic glass
mirrors, both currently supply EC glass to interested third party
mirror manufacturers. Information supplied
by the parties indicate that Gentex accounts for 80% of worldwide
electrochromic glass and 96% of supply in Europe. As the merger [of
Donnelley and Magna] will not change the number of suppliers of this
specialised glass, and since Gentex will remain by far the dominant
producer of electrochromic glass, the transaction is not likely to
result in the merged entity being
able to limit access to this glass to third party mirror

From Donnelley PR:
A safer, more convenient driving experience.
Magna Donnelly  has long pioneered research in this critical category.
Today, the Magna Donnelly EC mirror is an industry standard. It uses
advanced sensing technologies to detect ambient light and glare from
headlights and other sources. It then varies the reflectivity of the
mirror, dimming to give the driver just the right amount of rear
vision and glare protection.
The next big idea: the only EC mirror with a solid core.

The Magna Donnelly SPM™ EC Mirror is the first of the next generation.
Thanks to Magna Donnelly’s exclusive SPM™ (Solid Polymer Matrix)
technology, it contains no liquid or gel substance. So there’s no
leaking. And the mirror functions for a period of time, even if the
glass is cracked. The result: a safer, more reliable

Magna Donnelly to Lead Mirror Market
by Tom Murphy, Jun 26 2002
Filed on Oct 31 2002

Quarterly Report (SEC form 10-Q)In fiscal 2001, Donnelly reported
sales of $850 million. Most of that came in the sale of automotive
mirrors. Worldwide, Donnelly is No.2 in mirrors only to Schefenacker
International of Germany.

Magna also produces mirrors. Those operations will be combined with
Donnelly’s, and Magna says the new company will overtake Schefenacker
as the No.1 automotive mirror producer worldwide. Total sales will be
about $1.2 billion.

But from a strictly regional standpoint, Donnelly’s biggest competitor
has been Gentex Corp., which is located in nearby Zeeland in southwest
Michigan and has battered Donnelly in the market for auto-dimming
electrochromic mirrors. Gentex has 80% of that market, compared with
Donnelly’s 16%.

From a financial standpoint, it appears Gentex has won the race, as it
has performed well on Wall Street in recent years, bucking the trend
for most suppliers.

But Donnelly may have the last laugh, as Magna has been a good
customer in purchasing exterior electrochromic mirrors from Gentex.

So will Gentex retain its mirror business with Magna after Donnelly
enters the fold? “To say right now would be speculation. No one knows
what Magna will do with it (the Gentex business),” a Gentex
spokeswoman says. “In the near term, I don’t expect anything to
change. Any change that could happen would take time.” 


Net Sales. Net sales for the third quarter of 2002 increased by
approximately $27,400,000, or 37%, when compared with the third
quarter last year. Net sales of the Company's automotive mirrors
increased by $27,349,000, or 40%, as electrochromic mirror unit
shipments increased by 29% from approximately 1,704,000 in the third
quarter of 2001 to 2,206,000 in the current quarter. This increase
reflected the increased penetration of interior and exterior
electrochromic Night Vision Safety(TM) (NVS(R)) Mirrors on 2003 model
year vehicles plus additional content. Unit shipments to customers in
North America increased by 26%, primarily due to increased penetration
into the mid-sized vehicle segment and higher automotive production
levels. Mirror unit shipments to automotive customers outside North
America increased by 35% compared with the third quarter in 2001,
primarily due to increased interior and exterior mirror sub-assembly
shipments to European and Asian-Pacific automakers. Net sales of the
Company's fire protection products increased 1%, primarily due to
higher sales of certain of the Company's signaling products.

Gentex's ALS technology represents the next generation of glare
detection. It consists of a tiny CMOS (complementary metal oxide
semiconductor) chip that contains a light sensing element and the
additional electronic circuitry necessary to communicate light levels
to a microprocessor. Because the device is similar to a computer chip,
it's inexpensive, durable, and easy to manufacture. And, because it's
a digital device, it doesn't require external circuitry, such as a
signal amplifier or analog to digital converter, allowing Gentex to
reduce the complexity of its circuit boards.

From a Gentex PR release:

Company currently supplies NVS(R) Mirrors to DaimlerChrysler AG and
General Motors Corporation under long-term agreements. The long-term
supply agreement with DaimlerChrysler AG runs through the 2003 Model
Year, while the GM contract is through the 2004 Model Year for inside
mirrors. On October 1, 2002, Magna International acquired Donnelly
Corporation. Donnelly is the Company's major competitor for sales of
automatic-dimming rearview mirrors to domestic and foreign vehicle
manufacturers and their mirror suppliers. The Company also sells
certain automatic-dimming rearview mirror sub-assemblies to Magna and
Donnelly. At this time, it is too early to determine the impact, if
any, of Magna's acquisition of Donnelly upon the Company.

Gentex Night Vision Safety(TM) (NVS(R)) mirrors automatically darken
to reduce glare from the headlamps of vehicles approaching from the
rear.  The brighter the glare, the darker the mirrors become, making
nighttime driving safer.Gentex was the first company in the world to
successfully develop and produce a commercial electrochromic mirror
for the motor vehicle industry.
The Company is the leading supplier of these mirrors to the worldwide
automotive industry.  Gentex OEM customers include Audi, Bentley, BMW,
DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia
Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Renault Samsung, Rover, Rolls Royce,
SsangYong Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen.  Gentex accessory customers
Gulf States Toyota Distributors, Mito Corporation, Southeast Toyota
Distributors, Subaru Distributors NE and Toyota Motor Sales USA.
 Founded in 1974, Gentex operates out of four facilities in Zealand,
Michigan; an automotive sales office in Livonia, Michigan; automotive
and engineering subsidiaries in Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and
and four regional U.S. sales offices for the Fire Protection Products

Much more than just glass
 Manufacturing electrochromic mirrors is a complex process
  A gentex mirror is shown next to vats of photochromic liquid that is
used in the mirror to darken it when exposed to bright light sources
like headlights of tailgaters.

After the battle: as smoke clears, mirror makers aren't looking back
Gardner, Greg
Ward's Auto World, Dec 1, 1996 
This article is old but discusses the patent dispute between Donnelly
and Gentex

Electrochromic Science

University College Dublin Chemistry Department description of research
for Donnelly

"In collaboration with Donnelly Mirrors (Ireland) Ltd., workers at UCD
have developed a pre-production prototype electrochromic automative
rear-view mirror.  This mirror, based on a modified nanostructured
semiconductor substrate, exhibits superior performance in terms of
colouring efficiency and switching times when compared with existing
commercially available devices.  Further, this technology offers the
prospect of a significantly lower-cost and more environmentally
friendly manufacturing process."

Chemical description of electrochromic process
Nanocrystalline amplification
By using nanocrystalline semiconductor films, it was possible to
amplify the light absorption of the molecular monolayer to obtain
visible color changes. The nanocrystalline layer are highly porous and
usually the real surface of a 5 µm thick layer is about 500 times the
projected area. Therefore, as light passes through the layer, it
crosses several hundreds of monolayers of coloured molecules giving a
strong absorption.

These pages from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory describe
technical aspects of electrochromic devices. I attempted to contact
the laboratory but was unable to speak to anyone immediately.  You may
wish to try this yourself because it appears they may be best able to
differentiate between the Gentex and Donnelly science.

30/11/97Prototype Coloured Electrochromic Devices Based on Chemically
Modified Nanoporous-Nanocrystalline TiO2

 National Renewable Energy Laboratory
1617 Cole Blvd
Golden, CO
(303) 275-3000

search strategy: Gentex, Magna, Donnelley; night vision mirror;
electrochromic mirror; automobile mirrors + business + market +
marketing research + research + projections + technology;  "rear view
mirrors" +market +electronic +innovation +new
Periodical search with EBSCO and online archives of New York Times and
various automotive magazines

Nellie Bly
Google Answers Researcher

Request for Answer Clarification by infopros-ga on 14 Feb 2003 15:30 PST
Excellent work. You said that Donnelly dominated the European market. 
Is there any chance that you came across any market share data for
European electrochromic mirrors ? I suspect that this market is split
in some fashion between Donnelly and Gentex. Also, any idea what
percentage of new cars in Europe come with EC mirrors ?

Clarification of Answer by nellie_bly-ga on 14 Feb 2003 19:08 PST

I found some additional information on European market shares but I'm
unable to find data on the number/percent of European cars equipped
with electrochromic mirrors.

Here's what I did find:

The following is from an investigative case file on the merger of
Magna and Donnelly at

European Market Share

With respect to exterior mirror systems, the parties?[Magna and
Donnelly] data indicates a combined market share of approx. [25-35]%
by volume and [30-40]% by value in the EEA for exterior mirrors. Magna
currently has [>10]% (vol.) and [>10]% (value), and Donnelly has
[20-30]%  (vol.)  and  [20-30]%  (value).    Other  significant 
competitors  include  Ficosa International  SA  with [35-45]% (vol.)
and [25-35]% (value), Schefenacker AG with [20-30]% (vol.) and
[20-30]% (value), and Engelmann with [>10]% (vol.) and [>10]% (value).

With respect to interior mirror systems, the parties? data indicates a
combined market share of approx. [40-50]% by volume and [40-50]% by
value in the EEA for interior mirrors. Prior to the transaction, Magna
is a smaller competitor with a market share of [>10]% (vol.) and
[5-15]% (value), while Donnelly is the market leader with [40-50]%
(vol.) and [30-40]% (value).  Other significant competitors include
Ficosa International SA with [10-20]% (vol.) and [5-15]% (value),
Schefenacker AG with [10-20]% (vol.) and  [10-20]% (value), Engelmann
with [5-15]% (vol.) and [5-15]% (value), and Gentex with [>10]% (vol.)
and [10-20]% (value).

Further information from the report:

Interior mirror products can include a variety of features  such  as 
prismatic  mirrors which are tilted manually to reduce glare from
headlights of vehicles approaching from the rear, compass and/or
temperature sensors, anti-theft sensors, electrochromic mirrors which 
automatically  dim  glare,  integrated  lights,  telematic  mirrors 
allowing communication with the vehicle?s communication system, and
integrated microphones for use with mobile phones.   Manufacturers
generally provide a range of options with prices varying significantly
depending on the options chosen.

Exterior mirror products can include security lights which illuminate
when the  driver approaches the vehicle, electrochromic mirrors, power
folding mirrors  for  congested streets  or tight parking conditions,
heated glass for defrosting, mirrors which automatically  tilt 
downwards  in  reverse  gear,  and  aspheric  glass  mirrors  which 
use convex glass to improve the range of sight.  As for interior
mirror  products, manufacturers of exterior mirror products generally
provide a range of  options  with prices varying depending on the
options chosen.

The type of vehicle influences the type of mirror  features  selected 
and  therefore  the price of the mirror products, with economy car
mirrors usually incorporating  more basic features compared to higher
end vehicles.

Varitronix International Limited ("Varitronix"), a global leader in
the market for liquid crystal displays ("LCDs") and electronic
systems, today announces to expand into automotive electrochromic
mirrors business with the signing a joint-venture agreement with
Donnelly Corporation. Through its Malaysian subsidiary, Varitronix
will acquire a 50 percent share in one of Donnelly's existing
The 50-50 joint venture will be called Varitronix EC Mirrors Limited,
and from the Malaysia base the joint venture will serve Asian
customers and provide strategic support for Donnelly's growing
worldwide electrochromic mirror sales.

Also this more definitive description of the Donnelly product dated

 Donnelly Announces Solid Polymer Matrix(TM) Technology for Safer,
More Robust Auto-Dimming Mirrors
HOLLAND, Mich., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Donnelly Corporation (NYSE:
DON - news), the world's leading supplier of automotive mirrors, has
begun using Solid Polymer Matrix (SPM)(TM) technology to produce
electrochromic (EC), automatic- dimming rearview mirrors that are
safer and more robust than competing products available in the market
Donnelly designed its SPM(TM) technology to use a solid substance
sandwiched between two pieces of glass, which darkens to reduce
reflectivity when electric current is applied to it. With the older
technology that is the industry standard today, the electrical current
is applied to a liquid substance contained between two layers of
glass. If the mirror is broken, the liquid substance can leak out and
the mirror will fail immediately.

I can't ascertain the date of this following article but it appears to
be fairly recent.

MIRRORS - Expect more cars to be equipped with electronically
sensitive devices that automatically adjust mirrors inside and outside
the car for glare.
About 15 percent of U.S. cars, mostly luxury models, have these
interior, rear-view electrochromic mirrors, said Niall Lynam, senior
vice president and chief technical officer for Donnelly Corp., a
Holland-based auto-vision and information-display supplier. They cost
about $25 each, compared to $3 for the typical prismatic mirror with a
manual glare adjustment switch available on most cars, Lynam said.

In 1998, Donnelly Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dwane
Baumgardner said "the market for electrochromic mirrors is expected to
grow from about $200 million today to $1.5 billion as automakers
install auto-dimming on more moderately priced vehicles. They are now
primarily installed on high-cost luxury cars and sport utility

From that same article: "Donnelly's rival, Zeeland-based Gentex Corp.,
is the biggest maker of electrochromic mirrors in the world, with 90
percent of the market."

"Varitronix EC is the eighth partnership Donnelly Corp. has formed
with U.S., European and South American firms in the last five years as
a way to expand its product line and reach further into global

In 1998, Gentex said, of I believe the US market, that
 "6 percent of the new cars now are equipped with self-dimming
mirrors, and the company expects to see the market share grow to 50
percent in the next ten years."

Search: "Donnelly mirror"  and "electrochromic mirror" + "Europe" +
"European" + EU; automotive market +Europe + EU

Nellie Bly
infopros-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $100.00
Fantastic job.  The extra effort was obvious. Your answer showed that
you really did understand what I needed. Your comprehension of the
material and your conclusions were invaluable, especially considering
the time constraints.

Subject: Re: Automobile Mirror Business
From: nellie_bly-ga on 25 Feb 2003 08:25 PST
Thank you very much for your generous tip. 

 I am glad that the information was useful to you.  It was an
interesting project and bit of puzzle solving.

Thanks again.

Nellie Bly

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