Valeo is countering the industry trend toward ever-larger suppliers highlighted by ZF Friedrichshafen’s planned $13.5 billion acquisition of TRW Automotive. “I am not convinced that size is necessarily an advantage,” Valeo CEO Jacques Aschenbroich said.
His comments are in contrast to those of Faurecia CEO Yann Delabriere, who said automakers’ increasing use of technology from suppliers across their global production networks is driving the consolidation of the Tier 1 supplier base.
Aschenbroich, however, believes that what matters is that the company is well positioned in the right technology fields and able to implement trends quickly, he said. Valeo was among the first suppliers to offer systems for self-piloted vehicle parking and is “already in a position to make autonomous driving possible technically,” Aschenbroich said.
In 2013, Valeo filed about 800 patents and increased its r&d budget to more than 1.1 billion euros, Aschenbroich told Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche. “Over the first half, our revenue grew 10 percent on a comparative basis, to 6.3 billion euros while operating margin climbed 15 percent,” he said.
“We are now registering a 25 percent increase in incoming orders compared with last year. From these figures, I see that success has nothing to do with size,” he added.
Valeo is not one of the industry’s small players. It ranks No. 14 on the Automotive News Europe list of the top 100 global suppliers, with worldwide sales to automakers of $13.7 billion in 2013. Valeo has 78,600 employees, 123 plants and 34 development centers in 29 countries worldwide. The company divides its business into four fields: comfort and driving assistance, powertrain, thermal systems and visibility systems.