Faurecia continues to lose money while it digests recent acquisitions such as Sommer-Allibert, the French plastic components specialist, and U.S. exhaust systems specialist AP Automotive Systems. In an interview with Automotive News Europe Staff Reporter Sylviane de Saint-Seine, CEO Pierre Levi talks about Faurecia's efforts to turn revenue gains into profit. That would please PSA/ Peugeot-Citroen SA, which owns 71 percent of the French supplier.
Q&A: Faurecia adjusts after buying Sommer-Allibert
Net losses derived from one-off restructuring charges, notably exhausts and interior systems operations in France and Germany. Also, startup costs won't be as high as they have been in the recent past.
It hasn't changed. But since I set this objective, many things have happened - the purchase of Sommer-Allibert in particular. Our revenue has more than doubled to $10 billion from $3.8 billion in 1999. In seats, for instance, we have been through several important launches: the Citroen C3 and C5, the Peugeot 307, the Renault Laguna and Espace. I won't say when we'll reach that margin.
We and others have grown better at developing projects together. The outsourcing of modules, which began in the United States, came to Europe relatively recently. We've had to learn how to share responsibilities and have gone through this learning process. That said, relations between carmakers and suppliers are easier and simpler in the United States.
We are more precise and rigorous when establishing specifications, using elaborate mock-ups before price quotation. And we have a checklist to evaluate the profitability of a project as it develops.
It's not falling in volume, only as a proportion of our sales. Innovation remains key, particularly when there's so much going on in vehicle interiors. I was struck at the Geneva show to see the profusion of innovation: new material, new passive safety devices.
I don't know. Anyway, we work with several carmakers on filters that don't use additives. PSA's current filter assembled by Faurecia uses an additive by Rhodia. We also carry out in-house research on filtration systems. So far we have only been architects, but we may build filter elements ourselves.
That's the usual bickering between suppliers and customers. We are very proud of our seats. I think we helped improve the perceived quality of French cars and the competitiveness of German cars. Besides, there are events beyond our control: One of our plants in northern France is handling three car projects that were planned to be staggered in time. But delays by the customer mean the cars will launch at the same time. That may be difficult for us to handle.
The former helped us a little to gain better access to Nissan. The latter, not at all. We are not in the Czech project by PSA and Toyota. We hope to be in PSA's Slovakia one. But the trend is toward the diversification of our customer panel. We expect General Motors and BMW to become increasingly important to us.
We are very European in our revenue base. Only 15 to 20 percent of our revenue comes from the dollar zone. Our target of deriving 25 percent of sales from the United States is realistic, but not for five years.
We have 2,700 today. In some fields there are too many, in others, not enough. In China, our purchasing department is trying to find local suppliers. We need more commodity suppliers, but fewer in areas such as airbags or ventilators.
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