Frankfurt/Munich The automotive supplier Webasto is looking for an investor for its business with charging stations and cables for electric cars. “We can see that the full potential cannot be exploited at the moment,” the company explained on request. “We therefore decided to look for a partner who would support the positive development of the charging area.”
The Bavarian company thus confirmed information from the Handelsblatt from financial circles. The market for charging solutions is very dynamic and offers great growth opportunities, Webasto advertises buyers for this business area.
According to people familiar with the situation, the group has hired investment bank Jefferies to look for an investor. Industry circles emphasized that no decision had yet been made. However, Webasto does not want to completely separate from the division. The company itself pointed out that the industry is in a consolidation phase. Jefferies declined to comment.
At Webasto, the charging technology business is out of the ordinary. When it comes to parking heaters, sunroofs and batteries, the main customers are car manufacturers. Charging stations, on the other hand, are set up and operated by very different providers around the world. Therefore, other sales channels are in demand.
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Webasto has charging cables, mobile charging stations and wall boxes for private individuals and commercial customers in its portfolio. Important sales markets are Germany and the rest of Europe as well as the USA. The wall boxes and cables are produced in Schaidt (Rhineland-Palatinate), Irapuato (Mexico) and Wuhan (China).
Last year, Webasto generated sales of 155 million euros with activities related to electromobility. That was twice as much as in the previous year. In addition to charging technology, the division also includes battery systems and electric heaters. By 2025, the entire division is expected to generate sales of one billion euros. According to industry estimates, revenue in the tens of millions should have been generated in the charging sector recently.
Electromobility remains a sales driver
Webasto saw growing demand in this area. However, the group has been in the red for the past two years. CEO Holger Engelmann said when the balance sheet was presented: “We will continue to pursue a consistent austerity course.” You can no longer invest in everything that promises growth.
Webasto made a loss before interest and taxes last year.
Webasto is one of the 15 largest German automotive suppliers and is fully family-owned. The company became known to a broader public when the first corona case in Germany occurred there. The company specializes primarily in glass panorama roofs and parking heaters.
The automotive supplier from Stockdorf near Munich is struggling on several fronts. Like the competition, the group suffered from the consequences of the corona pandemic. Car sales fell at times, supply chains were disrupted, material costs are rising.
In addition, there were home-made problems related to the major order from Ford for the roofs of the new edition of the Bronco icon. The new Detroit plant opened late, Ford had to delay initial deliveries and replace thousands of hardtop roofs due to quality issues. The failed product launch cost 200 million euros. The flagship order initially turned into a disaster.
>> Read about this: The Bronco disaster at Webasto: the car roof specialist is in the red
Before interest and taxes, Webasto made a loss of 146 million euros last year, mainly because of the problems with the Bronco. This is one of the reasons why the group wants to focus even more on its core divisions.
The relatively new business with batteries for electric cars plays a central role in the strategy. Following a major order from Hyundai-Kia, the group has built a new high-tech battery plant in South Korea in recent months. Up to 110,000 battery modules can be manufactured there every year, and the capacity is set to rise to 160,000 by 2025. Webasto is investing a total of around 88 million euros in Dangjin.
At the beginning of the year, Webasto also received its first battery order from a German car manufacturer. According to the company, the two orders have a total volume of more than one billion euros.
Even if it has not yet been decided which parts of the battery value chain will end up with the car manufacturers and which with the suppliers, this segment is likely to play a greater role for Webasto in the next few years than the charging area.
There is also a comparatively large number of players here. In the case of charging stations, for example, these are companies such as ABB and Siemens, and in the case of wall boxes, they are often specialists such as Keba or go-e.
An industry insider says there will be a market shakeout in the next few years. Webasto can play an active role here by looking for investors.
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