Plastic Omnium CEO Laurent Burelle is a high-energy executive who at 65 says he plans to retire “sometime in the next 50 years.” There is no time to slow down because Burelle wants to boost revenue 32 percent to 7 billion euros ($7.7 billion) by 2018 at the French supplier of bumpers and fuel tanks founded by his family in 1946. Much of the increase is expected to come from components that will help automakers meet tougher global emissions rules, Burelle told Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri.
How would you summarize Plastic Omnium today?
We are the world leader in gasoline fuel tanks, painted body panels and plastic structural parts. We are growing fast in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems. We have new orders, new plants, new customers in new countries and new technologies. All that is fueling the growth we foresee for the 2016-2018 period.
What are the goals for 2018?
We plan to reach 7 billion euros in revenue by 2018, up from 5.3 billion last year. I am optimistic because our market shares are increasing. In bumpers, we plan to expand from a 10 percent global share in 2014 to 15 percent in 2018. In fuel tanks we were at 21 percent last year and plan to be at 24 percent by 2018. The SCR business supplied 200,000 systems last year, but we already have booked orders for 2.2 million units for 2018.
Are megaplatforms changing the way you do business?
The globalization of platforms is making the orders bigger and bigger. We are negotiating orders of more than 1 billion euros over the life cycle on a regular basis. This is quite new for us. It is a risk and an opportunity: A risk if we lose the contract or do not fulfill it properly; a nice opportunity if it is well executed.
Will the rise of megaplatforms result in supplier consolidation to create bigger players?
Yes. You need the financial strength and the global production footprint to supply in different regions. A recent order we got from a big German automaker includes five different countries to supply. Luckily, we already have plants in all those countries. Financial strength is needed to invest in development before you start supplying. I am not sure if this will result in a reduction in the number of players, but automakers will at least need to choose strong partners otherwise they risk having a new product launch fail in five countries at the same time.