The Webasto Group based in Stockdorf near Munich has been a family-owned business since it was founded in 1901. The company has been developing, manufacturing and selling products for the automotive industry for over 75 years.
Webasto – A tradition of progress
Webasto is the world market leader for roof and convertible roof systems as well as parking heaters and is among the world’s largest 100 suppliers to the automotive industry. In 2015 the Group generated sales of 2.9 billion euros and employs close to 12,000 people worldwide.
The company has over 50 locations worldwide – over 30 of which are manufacturing plants. In Germany, Webasto operates production plants for roof systems in Utting at the Ammersee and in Schierling near Regensburg. The world’s largest manufacturing plant for thermo systems is located in Neubrandenburg (New Brandenburg). In Germany, the convertible business unit produces at plants in Hengersberg and Regensburg. Additional production plants across Europe are located in France, Italy, Great Britain, Romania, Slovakia and the Netherlands.
The company expanded internationally very early on and founded plants back in 1974 in the USA (Detroit, MI) and in 1978 in Japan (Hiroshima). Webasto has been active in Korea through the joint venture Webasto Donghee since 1988. In China, the largest automotive market worldwide, Webasto been active since 2001 – and now is on the ground with ten production plants.
Original Equipment and Aftermarket Consumer Goods
Core competencies of Webasto include the development and production of complete roof and convertible roof systems for cars as well as heating, cooling, and ventilation systems for cars, commercial, specialty and rail vehicles, recreational vehicles and marine. In addition, the company also offers parking heaters for retrofitting by end consumers. The know-how acquired in the automotive industry is transferred to specifically target other types of vehicles. One example is the movable roof systems for boats and yachts.
Innovations and technological leadership
Shaping mobility in a sustainable manner is a pivotal social and political requirement for automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Among other issues, this includes reducing fuel consumption and the use of alternative drive systems. As a strategic partner Webasto supports manufacturers with innovative technologies and products.
In the area of automobile roof systems, for example, the company developed a solar roof that represents one of the most efficient eco innovations acknowledged by the EU. Webasto has been working intensively on lightweight design solutions for years. The company implements multiple technologies in serial production that contribute to weight reduction in the roof area. The company set up its own plastics competence center in Schierling near Regensburg in 2003. Innovative roof elements made of polycarbonate have been produced there since 2007. Based on numerous new projects, in 2013 Webasto invested 45 million euros into the further expansion of its lightweight technology. Thus, the company now features a production capacity of one million polycarbonate components per year.
Webasto provides innovative heating concepts for all types of drive systems. In addition to fuel-driven auxiliary heaters for cars and parking heaters, electro mobility constitutes an important pillar of the Webasto growth strategy. To access and develop that market, in 2012 the automotive supplier presented a high-efficiency electrically operated high-voltage heater for hybrid and electric vehicles that heats the passenger compartment while driving. Full-scale series production of the device began in 2015 at the Neubrandenburg plant.
In 2000, the company extended its product portfolio and established itself as a supplier of convertible roof systems. Today, Webasto has the broadest portfolio of convertible roofs on the market. The company works with just about all well-known manufacturers, developing and producing customized convertible tops that set technological standards. Webasto is also increasingly implementing lightweight components such as aluminum and magnesium into these tops.
To ensure its position as an innovation and technology leader over the long term, the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the new Webasto development and administrative center in Stockdorf took place in July 2015. Encompassing an investment amount of about 40 million euros, the construction project will unify various functional areas under one roof, thus reinforcing interdisciplinary cooperation among the international teams.
Growth through acquisition
Webasto is also growing through acquisitions. Thus, the Edscha AG convertible roof business was acquired in January 2010, followed in August of the same year by the Karmann North America business with plants in the US and Mexico.
The company also undertook acquisitions in the Thermo division. In April 2012 Webasto acquired the shares of Diavia S.r.l. from Delphi Italia Automotive Systems S.r.l. This was followed by the takeover of the Turkish climate specialist Gaspa in January 2014. With both acquisitions Webasto systematically extended its one-stop-shop product range for customized heating and cooling systems, and further advanced the expansion of its customer base in key growth markets.
A glance at history
Why is Webasto called Webasto? The idea originated with the company founder Wilhelm Baier Senior in 1908 when he moved his factory for stamped parts, wire holders and home appliances from Esslingen to Stockdorf just outside Munich. The name comes from the initials Wilhelm Baier, Stockdorf. The move to Bavaria was based on the first boom of the bicycle industry early in the last century and the necessary proximity to the customer. Webasto focused increasingly on accessories such as wheels, fenders and chain guards and many of the customers at the time were located in Italy. When the automobile began its definitive worldwide triumph in the thirties of the twentieth century, Webasto turned into an automotive supplier. The project began in 1932: Wilhelm Baier constructed the first automotive folding roof that could be opened or closed with just a few simple steps. Only three years later, he created a so-called “vehicle fresh-air heater” for water-cooled engines. It later became famous under the name “Flüstertüte”.
For more details about the Webasto history please visit: www.webasto-group.com