Webasto – A tradition of progress
A family-owned business since it was founded in 1901, the Webasto Group in Stockdorf near Munich has been setting new technological standards again and again ever since.
Current business development
The company, which has been developing and manufacturing products for the automotive industry for over 75 years, is among the world’s largest 100 suppliers for the automotive industry and one of Germany’s top 15 automotive suppliers. For 2012 the Group realized a sales volume of more than 2.4 Billion Euros and employs over 10,000 employees.
Since July 2012, the Group has a new corporate structure. Webasto AG was transferred to Webasto SE (Holding). At the same time, the two divisions for Roof and Thermo Systems were spun off into legally autonomous companies, also in the legal form of the European stock corporation (SE): Webasto Roof & Components SE is responsible for the roof and convertible roof business, whereas Webasto Thermo & Comfort SE accounts for the business dealing with heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
The company has more than 50 locations worldwide – 30 of which are manufacturing plants. In Germany, Webasto maintains production plants for roof systems in Utting at the Ammersee and in Schierling near Regensburg. The world’s largest manufacturing plant for thermo systems is located in New Brandenburg. In Germany, the convertible business unit, Webasto-Edscha, produces at plants in Hengersberg and Regensburg.
The company founded its first international plant back in 1974 in the USA, near Detroit. The first Asian subsidiary with production plant was opened in 1978 in Japan (Hiroshima). Webasto is active in Korea through the joint venture Webasto Donghee since 1988. The market leader for roof systems has been active in China's growth market since 2001 – and now has six production plants, till the end of 2013 3 to 4 new plants will be added. The European production plants can be found in France, Italy, Great Britain, Romania, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia.
Original Equipment and Aftermarket Consumer Goods
Core competencies include the development and production of complete roof and convertible roof systems for cars as well as heating, cooling, and ventilation systems for cars, commercial, special and recreational vehicles and marine. In addition, the company offers parking heaters and sunroofs for retrofitting by the end consumer. The know-how acquired in the automotive industry is specifically targeted to other types of vehicles. One example is the movable roof systems for the marine market segment.
Innovations and technological leadership
Webasto is constantly setting new standards for automobile roof systems. For example, the company extended its product portfolio in 2000 with a further business unit and also established itself as a supplier for convertible roof systems. Webasto was the first to manufacture a five-part retractable hardtop (steel convertible roof) with integrated glass sliding roof for the VW Eos.
Webasto also takes the lead when it comes to using new materials. The company set up its own plastics competence center in Schierling near Regensburg in 2003. Innovative roof elements made of polycarbonate have been produced there since 2007. Webasto commissioned the second production line for polycarbonate components in October 2009 and thus underscored its determination to become the technological leader in this field. For one of the biggest challenges currently facing the automotive industry is the reduction of fuel consumption of vehicles. This is why the topic of lightweight design and the use of materials such as polycarbonate will become increasingly important.
Growth through acquisition
As of January 2010, the convertible roof business of Edscha AG and the convertible roof business of Webasto were combined to the business unit Webasto-Edscha. In addition, the Karmann business in North America with plants in the US and Mexico was taken over in August 2010.
In April 2012 Webasto acquired the shares of Diavia S.r.l. from Delphi Italia Automotive Systems S.r.l. The Diavia product portfolio includes air-conditioning systems for mini and midi buses, ambulances and off-road vehicles. With this acquisition, the Thermo & Comfort business division has significantly expanded its one-stop-shop product range for customized heating and cooling systems.
A glance into history
Why is Webasto called Webasto? The idea came from the company founder Wilhelm Baier Senior in 1908 when he moved his factory for stamped parts, wire holders and home appliances from Esslingen to Stockdorf just outside Munich. The name comes from the initials Wilhelm Baier, Stockdorf.Why is Webasto called Webasto? The idea originated with the company founder Wilhelm Baier Senior in 1908 when he moved his factory for stamped parts, wire holders and home appliances from Esslingen to Stockdorf just outside Munich. The name comes from the initials Wilhelm Baier, Stockdorf. The move to Bavaria was based on the first boom of the bicycle industry early in the last century and the necessary proximity to the customer. Webasto focused increasingly on accessories such as wheels, fenders and chain guards and many of the customers at the time were located in Italy. When the automobile began its definitive worldwide triumph in the thirties of the twentieth century, Webasto turned into an automotive supplier. The project began in 1932: Wilhelm Baier constructed the first automotive folding roof that could be opened or closed with just a few simple steps. Only three years later, he created a so-called “vehicle fresh-air heater” for water-cooled engines. It later became famous under the name “Flüstertüte”. More detailed information about the Webasto history can be found here.