Webasto wants “a leading system provider for electromobility”

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Webasto wants

The cooling economy, the tightening price pressure in the automotive industry as well as international trade conflicts have declined significantly in 2019 in the business numbers of the German supplier Webasto. Nevertheless, the company in the further development to a global innovative system partner has also made a big step for the field of electromobility, declared Dr. Holger Engelmann, CEO of Webasto SE, at this year’s annual press discussion. “Our goal is to become one of the leading system providers for electromobility,” Engelmann is the direction for the future before. The still relatively new business with battery systems has developed pleasingly strong in 2019, “and also 2020 we started well,” said the Webasto boss.

In the past financial year, the Webasto Group generated sales of 3.7 billion euros. The increase of well nine percent to 2018 is mainly due to the complete acquisition of the shares in the South Korean joint venture Webasto Donghee in the spring of 2019. The acquisition and persistently high expenses in new technologies ensured a significant decline in EBIT. The return on sales fell from 5.9 percent (2018) to 2.9 percent (2019).

The shop with roof systems, such as convertible hood and sliding roofs, rose in 2019 against the market development by eleven percent to 3.1 billion euros. At 84 percent, the division once again made the largest share of sales of the Webasto Group. On the other hand, sales with heating and cooling solutions have fallen slightly. With 575 million euros (previous year: 594 million euros), they carried in 2019 at 15 percent to total sales. The area of electromobility developed above average: sales with batteries and charging solutions has been able to double more than double over the previous year. In 2019, the company achieved this 43 million euros (2018: 19 million euros).

Despite a significant economic stimulus, China was in the past year with a revenue of 35 percent again the strongest single market for Webasto. The business in Asia made a total of 46 percent. Europe accounted for 36 percent of sales and the Americas region 18 percent. The worldwide number of employees of the Webasto Group rose moderately 4 percent and was around 14 at the end of 2019.000 employees. The construction was mainly held in Asia and Europe.

In the 2019 financial year, Webasto once again invested in its sustainable development. Expenditure on research & development was around 17 percent higher at 318 million euros than in the previous year. The focus here was on the fields of electromobility, pre-development for roof systems and innovative customer projects and the further expansion of mechatronics competence.

Investments last year with 405 million euros in more than 60 percent above those of 2018. Around 130 million euros of it alone made the sharing of the South Korean joint venture. Further investments were mainly in the expansion of machinery and facilities of the new business areas in Germany and China.

Master the crisis, use future opportunities

After a difficult first quarter of 2020, with a decline in sales of 18 percent compared to the same period of the previous year and a significantly negative return on sales – due to the Corona Pandemic – Webasto is currently dared to prognosis for the full year. “The production worldwide is currently considerably impaired and the highlight of the crisis has not yet been reached. All this has serious effects on our business figures at least in this, but probably in the coming year, “explained Engelmann.

Due to the tremendous challenges Webasto now focus on cost management in all areas. “We need to secure our room for maneuver as an independent company, which means: reduce spending at short notice and optimize structures long-term. Our new organization introduced last year offers a good basis for this. It promotes the exchange of business units and regions. So we can recognize synergies and use capacities together to increase our efficiency, “says Engelmann.

“The mobility of tomorrow actively shapes”

But in the current situation, it does not go to cost savings alone. In spite of limited resources, Webasto wants to consistently pursue its double strategy “Strengthening” and “Participating” to develop its market position. Engelmann: “The expansion of our competences and our product range in the direction of electromobility begins to pay off. Since the successful market entry with charging solutions and batteries 2018, we have won numerous series orders, as recently by a Scandinavian truck manufacturer for charging stations or from a South Korean car manufacturer for batteries.”

The order books of Webasto are well filled with a total of more than 22 billion euros for the next ten years. The proportion of customer projects with solutions for electromobility on the order backlog now turns eleven percent. Engelmann is positive: “As soon as the economy attracts again, we will continue our growth course. As company in family ownership Webasto has an equity ratio of 39 percent. With more than 50 locations, we are close to our customers worldwide, know the requirements of the industry very well and continue to build our competences in digitization and transformation.”

The goal of Webasto is to continue focused in difficult times. “We are convinced of mastering the current crisis with competent employees and great team spirit in order to be strengthened from it. We will continue to invest and actively shape the mobility of tomorrow, “emphasized Engelmann.

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