Webasto increased global sales 9 percent to 3.5 billion euros last year but the German supplier has an even tougher goal in mind. Webasto Chairman Holger Engelmann wants to boost to 5 billion euros by 2020. Engelmann is "courageously optimistic" that the tough target can be reached, he told Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc. But he worries that the industry could be badly damaged if a trade war between Europe and the U.S. continues to escalate.
Is Webasto still on track for 5 billion euros in annual sales by 2020?
There is still a lot of work to do but we are courageously optimistic that we will reach that goal.
Even if the trade war escalates?
If everything that is being reported in the press becomes a reality it will have a negative impact on the whole economy. We are grateful that the automotive industry was able to quickly and steadily recover from the global economic downturn of 2008 and 2009. We have seen increasing volumes for a number of years in the major markets. I'm worried that with all the discussions we are having right now regarding free trade we risk falling back into the bad situation we had a few years ago. We have to monitor developments carefully, but we shouldn't panic because right now the volumes are strong, and we have to deliver.
What is Webasto's outlook for Europe, the U.S. and China for this year?
We expect single-digit growth of light vehicle production in Europe and China while production in North American will be flat.
How about Webasto's sales outlook for those markets?
We foresee growth of 5 percent globally, which will mainly be driven by double-digit growth for us in China. That will be due to increased volume and additional projects above all in the sunroof and panorama roof business. We also expect strong growth in the U.S. because of our recent acquisition of AeroVironment's Efficient Energy Systems business. This accelerates the global development of our recently launched e-solutions business. Another boost in the U.S. will come from the launch of the new Jeep Wrangler with our convertible top. In Europe, we expect our sales to remain stable.