By Robert Sherefkin and Dale Jewett Automotive News Europe Munich, Germany-Germany's top suppliers won big sales increases in the US last year, a new survey shows. Continental, Robert Bosch and ThyssenKrupp Automotive posted double-digit sales rises, according to an annual ranking compiled by Automotive News, a sister publication to Automotive News Europe adn Urethanes Technology. Of the top 150 original equipment suppliers to North America, eight of the top 10 gainers in sales revenue are units of German or Japanese companies. The US growth of German and Japanese suppliers reflects how automakers from the two countries gained in North American vehicle production and how the Big 3 auto makers keep losing market share. Auto plants partially or fully owned by non-US automakers produced 29.3 percent of the 16,273,695 units built in the US, Canada and Mexico last year, a gain of 2.6 percentage points from 2002. Total 2003 North American production fell 3.0 percent from a year earlier. The Big 3's share of US light-vehicle sales dropped 1.5 percentage points to 60.2 percent in 2003. The Big 3 have given up 10 points of market share in the past five years. Suppliers that do most of their business with the Big 3 automakers had nine of the 10 largest declines. Original-equipment sales for the top 150 suppliers to North America in 2003 totaled $185.59 billion (currently E153 billion), up $3.46 billion or 1.9 percent from 2002. But at four of the top 10 -- No. 1 Delphi Corp., No. 2 Visteon, No. 3 Lear and No. 8 TRW Automotive -- North American sales fell last year. Only two of the top 10, Germany's Robert Bosch and ThyssenKrupp Automotive, recorded double-digit sales increases. ThyssenKrupp Automotive posted North American sales of $3.65 billion, up 15.1 percent from 2002. That moved it up one position into 10th place, displacing American Axle & Manufacturing. Bosch's US unit had an estimated $5 billion in North American sales, up 11.4 percent from 2002. That moved it up to No. 7, displacing TRW. Suppliers that count on the traditional American automakers for most or all of their sales are in a precarious position. But the Big 3 can still provide growth for suppliers. At Continental's US unit, North American sales rose 35.7 percent last year to an estimated $2.28 billion, moving it to No. 14 on the list. Much of that was tyres and electronic stability-control systems for Ford. Continental's unit in Auburn Hills, Michigan, also gained business from the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama and the BMW plant in South Carolina. "