“We will adapt [but] the clock is ticking" - Faurecia CEO Patrick Koller discusses Brexit

“We will adapt [but] the clock is ticking" - Faurecia CEO Patrick Koller discusses Brexit

Faurecia says it will adapt to what its customers want as the UK prepares to leave the European Union (EU) next year.

The French supplier has some production in Britain, but insists it is agile enough to adapt to whatever situation arises from the UK's exit from the European club, either with a trade deal or without one.

"What is an issue for us is what our customers will do," Faurecia CEO, Patrick Koller told just-auto at this week's Mondial de l'Automobile in Paris. "We will adapt [but] the clock is ticking. It is a little bit like a trade war – a trade war is [of] benefit to nobody. There is no winner.

"You have to respect the vote of the people and you have to listen to the rest of Europe. Europe might do some reforms to allow the UK to come back. Europe is not ideal today and the reasons why the middle class in the UK are pushing for Brexit are valid in other countries. People have an issue with immigration and globalisation. "

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the supplier said it will double its sales in China during the next two years as the Asian economy increases in size.

China's hitherto exponential expansion has slightly slowed but the country still represents exceptional opportunities for western suppliers.

"I think China will continue to grow by around 1m additional cars produced a year for at least the next five to six years," said Koller.

"We will double our sales in China in 2020 versus 2017 – [it] is a premium market in many aspects driven by SUV growth."

The French supplier added it was "perfectly aligned" with CASE megatrends as it looks to use its 'Smart Life on Board' technology for automotive interiors and has established a range of collaborations with other manufacturers to take advantage of demand.

"We were able to set up a range of partnerships in an organisation called Faurecia Tech," noted Koller. "ZF, Mahle, Corning for glass and JDI for displays. "This allows us to integrate our best possible technology.

"Start-ups [also] allow us to accelerate – we integrate start-ups in our programmes. We believe the interior will become the differentiator in the automotive industry. Carmakers will have more and more difficulties to differentiate themselves through the powertrain so I really believe what will count for people will be what you have inside – it might be tailor-made.

"It means the interior will have to become versatile and connected, it has to become predictive. In the future each passenger in the car will have his own adjustment in terms of comfort, temperature, humidity and sound systems. Today you have to deal with what the car is proposing to us. Tomorrow the car will have to learn how you deal with it."

The Faurecia chief also outlined one way in which surfaces were starting to play a role in saving weight, with the removal of loudspeakers for example. A mid-class car might have around 12 speakers and their replacement by surface technology could save around 5kg in weight and help cut emissions.

"For us, zero emissions is a megatrend, it is what customers want," added Koller. "We have to engage in these technologies. Regulations will become very tough."

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