Rolf Sudmann

Rolf Sudmann

As part of Continental Corp, ContiTech is a major supplier of a variety of technical rubber products and specialist for plastics technology. While at the 2015 Equip Auto show, Matthew Beecham met with Rolf Sudmann who recently took charge of Contitech's automotive aftermarket segment.

Could you tell us a little more about ContiTech's automotive aftermarket portfolio for Europe?

As a partner to dealerships and workshops, with over 115 years of experience in the field of drive belts, ContiTech supports customers in day-to-day work with a tailor-made programme: from sophisticated technical products and expert advice to an informative internet range and workshop training courses throughout Europe.

The kits from ContiTech provide workshops with the advantage that they do not have to order parts individually and the parts are exactly tuned to each other. This simplifies the administrative tasks involved in processing and receiving goods, and offers security. The customer also receives technical support from a single source; only one storage location is required for several elements and replacing all drive system components in a single work step makes good economic sense.

ContiTech is moving ahead with its kit strategy and is bringing auxiliary drive kits into its automotive aftermarket line. The new V-ribbed belt kits contain a V-ribbed belt and tensioner of original equipment quality. With about 100 complete packages, we cover a large majority of the most common applications. And with our 123 timing belt kits equipped with a water pump, we cover more than 90 percent of all European vehicle models in which the timing belt drives the water pump. We also provide 36 different torsional vibration dampers kits.

Our goal is to implement ContiTech's quality mentality - down to the very smallest detail - with products and services.

What is the message that you are putting out here at Equip Auto?

At the 100-square-metre communal booth, which brings together ATE, VDO and the Tire Division, ContiTech - the specialist in drive components - puts the spotlight on its timing belts, the timing belt kit equipped with a water pump, and the V-ribbed belt kit. Further highlights include the improved online service PIC [Product Information Centre], which enabled ContiTech to make it into the top five for the Equip Auto Innovation Award, and the training courses offered by ContiTech France. Here, we meet dealers and workshop owners, discuss matters with potential new customers and present our latest product updates.

How does ContiTech achieve original quality in its aftermarket products?

ContiTech's products for the automotive aftermarket are based on a simple principle: No differentiation between their products and OE parts. Our power transmission belts and components for the aftermarket are produced to the same production standards as OE components. The only difference is in the product branding and packaging at the end of the manufacturing process. Backed by our experience, knowledge and competence, those parts we do not deliver to OE are developed and produced to fit OE standards.

The issue of counterfeiting automotive parts is often in the press. Could you tell us what steps ContiTech take to protect its IPR?

Especially in emerging markets counterfeiting is a problem. To protect a product with for instance a seal, marking and tracking code is nearly impossible. All these signs can be copied in a deceptively authentic way. There is simply no chance for dealers, garages or car drivers to distinguish the difference between counterfeit and genuine. That is why we concentrate on organisation and information. We always recommend our customers the purchase of our products via the established distribution channels as for example flea markets. Customers purchasing from authorised sources are definitely on the save side. Beside this we closely cooperate with the customs in several countries to identify unauthorised or suspect shipments. In the event that one counterfeit is detected, the goods are detained.

We understand that you took over ContiTech's automotive aftermarket segment on 1 September 2015. What are the keys for ContiTech's continued growth?

Our kit programme and services will become increasingly important. I am convinced that ContiTech is so successful in the aftermarket sector specifically because we do not only sell products. In addition, internet sales is another area that will continue to grow in significance. It will not replace traditional trade, but it is becoming an increasingly important alternative. We must continue to monitor this development and react to it accordingly.

What are your ambitions to expand in BRIC countries?

We are currently number two in the world. We have therefore done lots of things right. But there are still goals that we want to achieve and can achieve. Following the acquisition of Veyance, we have to unite two strong brands on the market. The expansion of our market position in Asia is also a major strategic task. ContiTech will be investing in organisational and sales structures in Asia over the next few years. We need to expand our market leadership even further in South America, and in Europe the logistics processes and price harmonisation will, amongst other issues, be major topics. We have a good starting point: The markets in Asia, Russia and Brazil will stabilise in the medium turn. In India we also expect growth in the long turn.

Could you tell us more about your marketing strategy for the brands in ContiTech's portfolio?

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto's QUBE Global light vehicle materials market- forecasts to 2030

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