Automotive – Turnaround in the existing business – transformation towards e-mobility and hydrogen technology

Team Schongau

The Automotive Division is back on the road to success. Consistent cost management, structural measures, operational excellence, the joint bearing of material and energy cost increases, and price adjustments with customers have all improved profitability.

After difficult years in a challenging market environment, HOERBIGER’s second-largest Division achieved an increase in sales of 12.7 percent in the 2023 financial year. In addition to the profitable continuation of the existing business, the Division is determinedly pursuing the transformation to the mobility of the future.

Thomas Englmann

"With the introduction of three new product lines, we have a clear forward strategy and good chances of tapping into attractive future markets.”

Thomas Englmann
Head of Automotive Division
and Member of the Executive Board


Revitalization of the existing business
Several effects had a positive impact: The semiconductor bottlenecks were resolved in 2023, as a result of which global vehicle production recovered faster than planned. Automotive also benefited from the ramp-up of large-volume new projects in the Synchro market segment, which further strengthened the Division’s leading market position. In addition, the shift towards electromobility slowed in the main markets of Europe and China, while the “combustion engine initiatives” of European OEMs had a positive impact.

The Refrigeration/Mobile Air Compression market segment recorded a high order intake due to strong demand for commercial vehicles and in the industrial sector. In the Actuation Comfort Solutions market segment, production start-ups for chassis and door actuations compensated for the declining basic business. Particular attention was paid to the market in China in 2023. Following the end of the coronavirus-related restrictions, the Automotive business enjoyed stable, high demand, particularly in the second half of the year.

Measures for increasing profitability
The decline in sales in recent years, strong inflationary effects and the ramp-up of electromobility required decisive measures to increase profitability in 2022 and 2023: on the one hand, by fairly distributing and passing on cost increases and market effects to all partners. On the other hand, consistent efforts were made to increase productivity and reduce costs. To this end, massive operational excellence initiatives were implemented at all plants and VA/VE projects were transferred to series production.

The organization was also adapted. The transition to electromobility requires a structural realignment, which is why the Synchro organization was massively streamlined. Some employees have been transferred to the new product lines and are helping to ensure that our existing expertise throughout the organization is put to the best possible use.

Transformation in full swing
In addition to successfully managing the existing business, the Division also sees great opportunities in the transformation of the automotive industry. Automotive has long been working intensively on new product ideas to shape the leap into the mobility of the future. The transition to emobility and the hydrogen economy started in 2023. With the introduction of three new product lines, HOERBIGER has good opportunities to tap into attractive future markets. The Division has already positioned promising, innovative products in the areas of eCoupling, battery components and electrolyzers on the market.

The eCoupling product line is picking up speed and has already acquired new business in the double-digit million range. With emDOC, an electromagnetic claw clutch, HOERBIGER has gained a renowned development service provider as a partner. This will be used in demo vehicles in the future.

In addition, the electrolyzer product line has received its first customer orders. Components for electrolyzers are already being mass-produced in Schongau. The innovative developments in battery components have been very well received by the market. Research and development work is in full swing and has met with great interest from potential customers.

Bundled synergies and motivated teams
All product lines are strongly positioned to take advantage of the opportunities in the existing business and successfully shape the transformation. Two years after the merger of all HOERBIGER Automotive businesses into one Division, the team has grown together and has proven its strength and ability to implement in 2023. Synergies are being fully exploited. Our motivation and enthusiasm were also very clear in the employee survey.