GERMANY: Yanfeng confident of US resurgence

By Simon Warburton | 16 October 2015

Newly-formed component giant, Yanfeng Global Automotive Interior Systems (YFAI), says it believes the US will continue its remarkable automotive comeback after the global economic recession and will post growth of up to 2%.

American automotive companies were obviously very hard hit during the worldwide downturn but both OEMs and suppliers have enjoyed significant resurgence as the market returns and even slightly exceeds previous levels seen before the financial crash.

"[The] US is a beautiful story, we are back to 17m cars," YFAI CEO, Johannes Roters told just-auto. "The car gets older and after a certain point, you will replace.

"OEMs are expanding in Mexico. I believe the US is stable and growth is 1%-2% [while] Europe has come back. I would not say the growth rate will be double digits, but the replacement business will grow."

YFAI is the joint venture between Yanfeng Automotive Trim Systems and Johnson Controls formed in July this year and is aiming to rapidly achieve US$10bn of annual sales.

"A lot of our innovations are very close to going on the car," said Roters. "Some people say: 'I want a simple, naked car,' [but] the Y generation works differently - we need to be close to the customer."

Some of those 'close innovations' were on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month as Yanfeng unveiled its ID16 concept car, outlining 30 interior developments such as a retractable steering wheel and pull out tables for drivers, ahead of autonomous driving introduction, while a simple catchbin for dropped coins was also on display.

Of great importance to Yanfeng - as to every supplier - is the endless search to strip out weight as cars become ever more crowded with technology and the interior specialist says it has shaved instrument panel skin from 2.5mm to 1.8mm thickness - a "drastic" improvement insists Roters.

"We need to take weight out, but still have function of purpose," added the Yanfeng chief, who also noted the rapidly globalising nature of component manufacturing.

"When I look back at my 33 years in the supplier industry, it was a challenge to buy parts in Spain and import them to Germany. Then, all of a sudden, American suppliers came over to Europe and the automotive industry moved to Asia and China; this is a global industry.

"China is 1.3bn people and car density is 60-80 [per 1,000 inhabitants]; overall this is a long-term market [although] growth of 10%-15% is over.

"The [Chinese] consumer is very sensitive to quality and image. It will continue to grow [with] little ups and downs.

"I would like to see in ten years, feedback from the customer that Yanfeng is visionary and innovative with interior solutions.

"I would like to be recognised as the market leader."