Rising Sunroof

Webasto, Maker of Sun Roofs, Rides Convertible Craze in China

Source: Webasto
Webasto has been family-owned since its foundation in 190.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Autos with panoramic glass roofs are more and more popular in China, enabling a small company in German to project doubled sales in the future.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Webasto, a family-owned German firm with 100,000 employees, makes sun roofs and panorama roofs, which are fueling the company’s growth.
    • The company is the world’s leading manufacturer of roof systems for autos and supplies major auto makers, including Volkswagen, Daimler, Ford, BMW and General Motors.
    • It expects to double sales of panorama roofs, which are popular in China.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Webasto is not your typical Chinese maker of auto parts. Technically, it is a German exporter of quality sun roofs and roofing systems, but its success and its future is being defined in China, where every third Volkswagen and every fifth BMW car is sold.

The small family firm based in southern Germany makes roof systems for autos – sun roofs and retractable roofs for convertibles – and has a sales volume of €2.5 billion ($3.3 billion). Thanks in large part to demand from China, Webasto aims to double its sales over the next few years.

The auto market is expanding rapidly in China and buyers want all the latest accessories from leather seats to sound systems to convertibles and cars with sun roofs. “Sun roofs and panorama roofs are a must-have in China,” said Holger Engelmann, Webasto’s chief executive. By 2018, he expects €1 billion in sales to come from the Chinese market. “We have the orders to motor that growth,” he said. “Now we just have to deliver.”

Sunroofs have expanded to become a big business for Webasto, which started out making clothing hangers and metal car wheels. Many newer auto models now have roofs made entirely of glass. The industry rule of thumb is, the larger the car, the more glass in the roof.

 

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