DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

Valeo, industry will miss Martin Haub

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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It's tough to come to terms with the sudden passing of Martin Haub, the kind and brilliant head of r&d and product marketing at French supplier Valeo.

The German native died on Christmas Eve. He was just 62.

His death has left his family reeling and his colleagues at Valeo shocked.

The loss, which I learned about late Friday, hits me hard, too. I had just met with Haub in his Paris office at Valeo on Dec. 9. During our chat he was particularly excited about the company's growing presence in the LED headlight sector.

"People often say to us, 'You are not really present in LEDs.' But let's talk again in a year," he said, showing his competitive side without taking anything away from rivals such as Hella and Magneti Marelli's Automotive Lighting unit.

He was proud that Valeo had LED headlight orders for models in all market segments.

"LEDs are more expensive, but we have reached a point where customers are going for it for differentiation -- even in entry-level vehicles," Haub said.

He predicted LED headlights would be an "avalanche technology," meaning there would be a massive uptake as soon as one mass-market carmaker decided to make it part of its offering.

Martin Haub worked at parts supplier VDO before joining Valeo in 1997.

He had already seen this happen with Valeo's Park4U parking assistance system, which he helped guide to market. Demand exploded for the technology soon after Volkswagen debuted the system in the Touran in 2007. Since then, Valeo has gone from having park assist in one car from one carmaker to having it in 29 models from 12 brands. Haub was very proud that Valeo, which he joined in 1997 from former German supplier VDO, had taken such a commanding lead in this sector.

You could not help but feel energized when talking to Haub about LEDs, Park4U and other neat devices. He was one of the most knowledgeable executives I've ever met. You didn't interview him. You had a friendly, open, enjoyable conversation -- and you always came away with fascinating insights about this industry.

His warm smile, welcoming disposition, easy-going spirit and passion for life will be missed.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

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