In Europe we expect the market to stagnate at the current low level, whereas in other parts of the world, mainly China and North America, we see growth. Due to our innovative product portfolio, high quality and cost competitiveness, our company intends to outgrow the market. We succeeded in doing so during the last years.
Innovation is a major key for our success. We are focusing on the megatrends: safety, efficiency, information and network, as well as affordable cars. One of the “lighthouse topics” that in the end covers at least two of the megatrends is highly automated driving. Continental sees this as an evolutionary process with three major steps in 2016, 2020 and 2025.
We see at least two major challenges in the coming years. One is the continuing crisis in Europe, which causes markets to stagnate. The other is the unpredictable costs of raw material, which has to be managed. The automotive industry has to bear the burden of developing conventional powertrain systems to outperform with regards to efficiency and Co2 emissions. At the same time, the electro mobility has to be developed with high additional costs for R&D.
The strategy we used to overcome the difficulties of the sector was a sound and stable financial position, with a long term finance strategy. We focused on innovation, high quality, diversification of our product portfolio, on reducing all kind of waste. We basically had a lean philosophy. Last not least, we focused on establishing an internal network to link the knowledge of 177.000 employees of Continental, to foster creative ideas, inventions, innovations and best practice. We call the internal WEB 2.0 solution ConNext.
We don’t see ourselves as advisers, but a general key success factor in every business is to understand the needs of the customers, be customer oriented. If you add innovative power and if you are able to deliver at a competitive price, with no compromises in regards to quality, you should be on a way to success. Innovation is the key success factor in our business. We always need to be one step ahead of our competitors, to drive the trends in the market. Examples are highly automated driving as well as clean power including e-mobility.
Last year we inaugurated our new office building for R&D in Timisoara, following EUR 20mn investment. This 30,000 square meter building, which accommodates over 2,000 employees, features another important milestone in our history in Romania and it underlines the importance of our engineering and development capabilities for our global customer base. It shows how important Romania is on Continental’s map.
The divisions of the Automotive Group (Chassis & Safety, Interior, Powertrain) develop and produce innovative software and hardware applications: engine management systems, transmission control units, electronic brake systems, multimedia and radio navigation systems, control units for hybrid vehicles, body controllers, digital tachograph systems, airbag control units and instrument clusters for the automotive industry.
The three research & development centers in Timisoara, Sibiu and Iasi and the three plants located in Timisoara, Sibiu and Brasov, represent an investment of approximately EUR 235mn investment in Romania and created more than 5,200 jobs. All 5 divisions of Continental are represented in Romania. We have seven production units and we cooperate in a joint venture in Slatina and in a tire distribution center for Eastern Europe in Sacalaz. We currently employ around 12.500 people in Romania. With sales of ?32.7 billion in 2012, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide.
As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires, and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has approximately 173,000 employees in 46 countries.