Growth course continued
Growth in the Automotive division was fueled by the launch and ramp-up of innovative customer projects. Although strong growth was recorded during the first half, growth momentum slowed down during the second half and in particular during the fourth quarter. Sales trends reflected both the strong Swiss franc and the introduction of a new pan-European test cycle (“Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure”, WLTP). The Automotive division also observed a decline in demand in China due to the country’s ongoing trade tensions with the US.
Growing faster than the market
Despite the slower pace of growth during the second half, the Automotive division again grew much faster than the market. The trend is towards more comfort, improved safety and increased efficiency, and thus more importantly, the electrification of vehicles. Autonomous driving is an important growth driver and the Automotive division is benefiting from it. These innovative trends are increasing the division’s market penetration rates, and as a consequence its shipment volumes of previously launched product solutions are growing as well. Furthermore, new projects are being launched to develop the next generation of products.
Innovation skills enhanced
The acquisition of new projects underlines the high competitiveness of the Automotive division. SFS’ manufacturing platform around the world is a major factor in its competitiveness. This creates the opportunity to realize new projects or follow-up projects at different locations, and to supply international customers locally with the required identical components. Another decisive factor when it comes to the acquisition of new projects is SFS’ proven innovation capability, which rests on its impressive manufacturing technology expertise and specific application knowledge. Customers clearly appreciate this and SFS was pleased to receive Bosch’s “Crazy for SuCCess” award for the second time in the short history of this award.
Adjustment for plant layout is planed
The relocation of Construction division production capacity at the Heerbrugg (Switzerland) site to foreign sites over the past 18 months has freed up some floorspace that the Automotive division will use to pursue its growth strategy. Numerous adjustments will be made to the plant’s layout until the end of 2020. This will require additional costs initially, but lead to significant efficiency and productivity gains in the medium term.
Positive outlook expected
In view of the pending production ramp-up of new projects, the Automotive division expects to generate renewed growth in 2019, although the overall market is expected to be flat.