Heinz Pfannschmidt was named Visteon CEO for Europe and South America in September 2001. He previously served as president and CEO of TRW Automotive Electronics Worldwide. Part of Visteon's growth in Europe this year will result from being a major supplier to Ford's new Fiesta. But at the same time, Pfannschmidt, 54, is trying to reduce Visteon's dependency on Ford. He talked with Automotive News Europe's Edmund Chew.
What are your expectations for Visteon?
After some difficult years Ford is regaining market share, which is good for us. With the new wins, a stable Ford business, we have a chance for slight growth this year.
You want more non-Ford customers in Europe. How will you achieve that?
We are launching a series of initiatives focused on major areas that will be important to our future. One initiative is directed at new programs and new customers. Program management and launch performance are also very important. We want to be seen as easy to work with. We want to improve our relationship with our suppliers, and build a very sound supply base. We will reduce the number of suppliers and become more efficient in how we work with Tier 1s and Tier 2s. There is still a lot we can do. Our supply base in Europe is not developed to the extent I would like.
What about manufacturing?
We want to improve our manufacturing footprint in Europe. We have a lot of nice new facilities in eastern Europe, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, but we still have to work to do. That includes the just-in-time facilities that we need for our major customers in Europe. And the [new] engineering centers in the UK and Germany will help us have a balanced presence.
What else are you working on?
Product-line strategies. We have defined six areas as major product lines and we are working with the manufacturing side and looking at the technology road maps.
What are you doing on product lines?
Out of the six product lines, three are championed out of the USA and three are championed out of Europe. A lot of innovation is in play in Europe. Take telematics. A lot of functionalities are driven forward in Europe, supported by pan-European digital cellular systems, and this allows Europe to move ahead with supplementary services. Internet access, route guidance and other telematics services will be pioneered in Europe.
What are Visteon's other two European product lines?
Chassis and interiors. Since we acquired [the interiors division of French supplier] Plastic Omnium [in 1999] we have develped quite a substantial activity in interiors in Europe. It's proving to be a nice fit with the electronic activity in the cockpit area, and what we are doing in telematics, audio and instrument clusters.