Spanish auto parts and systems supplier Ficosa International and its new majority shareholder Panasonic are to mass produce electronic rear-view mirrors, their first jointly developed product.
The move follows the formal cementing of the powerful partnership through a deal, completed in July, in which the Japanese electronics giant raised its stake in Ficosa from 20% to 69%.
Ficosa’s founding Pujol family will still retain a 31% stake in the company while its managing director Javier Pujol will continue as the firm’s CEO.
The new electronic mirror employs a camera with a wide angle lens capturing a broad rear view area offering greater visibility than with conventional rear-view mirrors. The system provides the driver a clearer and safer view, not obstructed by back seat passengers.
This latest development integrating Ficosa’s mirror know-how with Panasonic’s camera and liquid crystal display technologies has already won recognition with Toyota adopting the product.
Under the merger, Barcelona-based Ficosa becomes a separate Panasonic division bringing together products like electronic rear mirrors, next generation vehicle cockpits and driver-assistance systems, according to the group.
Development in automotive will now be a priority for Panasonic and it is to accelerate the commercialisation of products it is developing with Ficosa.
Meanwhile, the deal has led Ficosa to hire 100 additional engineers this year at its technology centre in Viladecavalls, near Barcelona. The expansion is required to allow for technological changes underway at the firm to shift from conventional automotive to connected cars, driverless vehicles, assisted driving and e-mobility.
The Spanish tier one global parts supplier is already investing around 6.5% of its revenue in research and development prompted by technology change. Last year, Ficosa added 217 more engineers at Viladecavalls.
Panasonic is aiming to top annual sales of two trillion yen (€15.5 billion) in the year 2018/19. Ficosa products, such as handbrakes, gear shift products and rear-view mirrors with integrated cameras - substantial consumers of plastics - are set to contribute around €1 billion.