German transmission maker Getrag foresees massive growth. By 2020, the supplier aims to produce 6.9 million transmissions a year, up from 3.9 million in 2012. The company, whose customers include Ford, Volvo, Porsche and Ferrari, also expects its dual-clutch transmission production to reach 2.8 million by 2020, up from 1.1 million now, with half of the output being made in China. Another Getrag goal is to boost revenues to 4 billion euros by 2016 from 3 billion last year. To meet its targets, Getrag plans to boost output in Europe while also opening factories in India and Russia and further expanding in Asia. Getrag CEO Mihir Kotecha discussed the supplier's future with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
What is the potential for dual-clutch transmissions compared with more mature products such as manuals?
We are on the beginning of our development path for the dual clutch so we've got 20 to 30 years of improvement and refinement and development to come. Other technologies that are more mature have a lower gradient.
Getrag started as a maker of manual transmissions and those account for 72 percent of your total output. By 2020 you forecast that manuals will account for 59 percent of the total. How will you cope with the decline?
We really see an acceleration of growth in the shift from manual transmissions to automatics. We believe we can roll our manual business over into our automatic business.
Can your plants handle this?
Our facilities are flexible enough to do both. Also, by 2020 our footprint in the West will be mirrored by our footprint in the East. We're really building up for 2020.
How will this affect your European production footprint?
In Europe we have a large manual transmission capacity and a growing dual-clutch output. For as long as we can, we will try to stay within our European footprint as it stands today. That's not to say we will never expand it. We will, but in difficult times in a weak economy what we would like to do is really secure and use what we've got. That strategy is working well. As the manuals are gently decreasing in volume we've been able to offset that completely with our automatic group within the same footprint. Also, we can grow our volumes without adding buildings because we're more and more productive every year.
Including your Getrag-Ford partnership, you have nine transmission factories in Europe. How many plants do you have in China and what's planned elsewhere?
We're in the process of launching a fourth plant in China and plan to open our first factory in India in about two and a half to three years. We're also working on a plan for Russia. I think we would be able to announce something in the next three years.
How does European overcapacity at the automakers affect your business?
We are a very investment-intensive business so managing capacity is crucial. We've been impacted by the weak European industry, but the actions that we took in 2009, '10, and '11 have gotten us in reasonably good shape for the situation today.