Even from a distance the car can recognise and welcome the driver with a projection on the ground. Vehicle users simply make a gesture to signal their desire to enter

Even from a distance the car can recognise and welcome the driver with a projection on the ground. Vehicle users simply make a gesture to signal their desire to enter

The current fiscal year did not begin as well as hoped for door systems specialist supplier Brose, a top executive said.

"Compared to the first half of 2018, turnover has decreased by 5% and results have deteriorated considerably," said CEO Kurt Sauernheimer.

"We have therefore taken measures to cut costs and fight this negative trend.

"We aren't achieving the contribution margins from turnover growth and at the same time we need to invest in new products and series production launches. This is compounding the negative effect."

Brose does not expect to see an economic recovery in 2020 either.

"Still," added Sauernheimer, "we expect growth of around 5% compared to 2019. This is because we are gaining market share and bringing new products to market."

One of the growth drivers is an electric air conditioning compressor for "a German premium customer", another is power third-row seating.

More opportunities than risks

In view of the transformation of the automotive industry, the supplier sees more opportunities than risks. Over the next three years the company will spend around EUR1.5bn euros on the development of new products, technical equipment and the global expansion of locations.

EUR200m euros will be invested in the German Brose locations this year.

"We are also increasing our focus on partnerships," said Sauernheimer, "to bring together the expertise of companies and to share the costs and risks of new developments."

Brose is responding to the great shifts in the automotive industry with its Future Brose programme, which will change the structure of the company by 2023.

This will also lead to changes in the number of staff throughout the company with reductions in some areas and new jobs created in others.

Sauernheimer: "We want to streamline workflows, achieve fast results and sustainably reduce costs. At the same time we are hiring engineers and software specialists to push ahead with the further development and expansion of our product portfolio.

"We made the decision to open up a new location in Serbia. This will increase our competitiveness and compensate for the lack of skilled workers in Germany," said Sauernheimer.

If all goes according to plan, Brose expects production to start in two years.

"We will employ around 1,000 people there as early as 2024. Part of this comes from relocations from German sites, another part comes from additional business," he said.

"We will start in Serbia with the production of motors for cooling fan modules. This product is under enormous price pressure because our competitors produce almost exclusively in eastern Europe."

Sauernheimer added: "With Future Brose we are also continuing to drive growth in our core business while strengthening our company's power to innovate so we can meet the challenges of tomorrow's mobility."

The supplier's new system ideas are centered on safe and comfortable vehicle access and flexible interiors.

Said Sauernheimer: "We are able to deliver an overall system for both business segments from a single source. Right now Brose is the only supplier that can do this."

At Frankfurt, the supplier is showing how it is transforming vehicle boarding and travel with the intelligent interaction between door and interior functions. Even from a distance the car can recognise and welcome the driver with a projection on the ground. Vehicle users simply make a gesture to signal their desire to enter. The handle-free doors open automatically; a radar sensor prevents collisions. The steering wheel disappears into the dashboard and the seat contour adjusts automatically. Passengers in the back of the vehicle knock twice on the rear door and it opens automatically as well.

The second row of seats is also completely electrified and can slide automatically for better access – a sensor recognises people, pets and car seats in the vehicle and prevents injuries and/or damages.

With a touch of a button the passenger can decide how he or she wants to enjoy the ride and the interior flexibly adapts to the desired usage: electronically controlled seats, screens and storage areas automatically coordinate their positions. The seat can transform into an office chair in work mode, storage areas and a desk with a built-in charging station extend from the cockpit. 

Alternatively, lounge mode creates a relaxing environment for vehicle occupants. The seat reclines, leg rests and adjustable armrests adapt to the vehicle user. A relaxing, music-synced massage begins and the flow of air from the air conditioning system automatically adjusts to the new position. And buckling up is now also more comfortable as the belt is either easily accessible directly next to the seat or is presented to the passenger electrically.

The joint venture Brose Aunde Fahrzeugsitze formed this year is also demonstrating its expertise in complete seats for passenger vehicles for the first time at the Frankfurt show: ergonomically designed seat adjusters, a commitment to lightweight design along with seat covers made of recycled plastics and renewable materials.

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