Webasto writes new chapter

German-based company kicks off sourcing sunroof plastic parts from India.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 25 Sep 2006 Views icon7477 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Webasto writes new chapter
Germany-based Webasto AG, one of the largest original equipment suppliers to the automobile industry worldwide, has begun sourcing complex plastic parts for sunroofs from the Motherson group in India. The company has also successfully penetrated the niche area of parking heaters for trucks and buses in India.

The first orders of parking heaters for 100 Tata vehicles were delivered for export to the US army. Parking heaters are pre-heaters to start a cold engine especially in regions where temperatures are as low as –40 degree Celsius. Webasto is keen to tap export business out of India to Afghanistan, Iran and other cold regions through Tata Motors. It has also shifted an entire production line for the Hollandia 100 sunroof to India from abroad.

The pop-up sunroofs are targeted for both the export and domestic markets. Not to be left out in air-conditioners segment, the company is targeting commercial vehicles and yachts. The German company has a 51 percent stake in Webasto Motherson Sunroofs with the balance held by Sumi Motherson. The latter has a tieup with Sumitomo Wiring Systems of Japan for wiring harnesses, injection moulding, tooling, software and design. Several other joint ventures of the company are involved in making electric distribution systems, cockpit assemblies (dashboards), rubber components, automotive mirrors, air compressors etc.

“We have got a few plastic parts from the Motherson group which we are supplying to China (where we have a number of different facilities) and Germany. It has started very well and it is important to develop a relationship and engineer the product together. It is a very complex, high quality moulding which is a large part of the sunroof. Initially, it will be around 100,000 units per year. Given that Webasto makes two million sunroofs annually, the potential is huge,” says David John Mortiboys, president, business group, roof & body systems Europe, Webasto AG.

The company will choose an engineered product and then take it to China and Germany. Philip van Ast, vice-president, sales & service, Webasto AG says that the parking heaters would be fitted in vehicles here in the coming months. “The heaters are coming from Germany and the wiring harness and other accessories wil be made in India,” he says.

Webasto Motherson has, incidentally, got genuine accessory clearance from Maruti Udyog, Ford and Hyundai for its sunroofs and can market them through their dealerships. “From next month, we are planning something big with each of the OEMs where we have product approvals,” says Arvinder Gill, president, Webasto Motherson.

As for the Hollandia 100, he says that it is for both the local and overseas markets. The company has already done around 6,000 such sunroofs back to the Netherlands for further distribution worldwide. Total sales this year are expected to be around 10,000 units of this model. If volumes grow more products could be shifted to India. The Hollandia 100 has four variants and does around 1,000 units annually in India. As for Webasto, airconditioner components for the same are already being sent for validation.
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