French plastic parts supplier Plastic Omnium SA has unveiled plans to invest 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) in building new capacities and technology over the next four years.
During its Investors Day presentation on Dec. 13, the automotive supplier said the investment would also be directed at optimizing industrial facilities through Industry 4.0 and operational excellence, as well as developing new programs and launching new research projects.
The increase in innovation capacity will enhance the company’s capability to address the looming challenges for the automotive industry, including the development of carbon-free, connected and autonomous cars.
In the area of carbon-free cars, Plastic Omnium is positioning itself as a supplier of storage for each form of energy. The company said it is developing specific solutions for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV), turbocharged engine vehicles and electric vehicles.
The company has also become involved in fuel cell propulsion.
For the connected and autonomous car, the French giant is positioning itself as the integrator of connectivity and to that end is developing innovation capacity in complex modules that integrate radar and sensors in the exterior parts.
“By 2025, smart bumpers and smart tailgates will represent greater added value and embedded intelligence. These new positions will enable Plastic Omnium to pursue long-term profitable and value-creating growth,” Plastic Omnium added.
To achieve these technological capabilities, the company has already taken a number of measures: Investment in Israel-based PO-CellTech, a fuel cell research center; the construction of Brussels-based Deltatech advanced research center for new energies; and the $23.5 million expansion of its Sigmatech global R&D center for exterior components and modules near Lyon, France.
The company also is set to open Omegatech, its new testing and development center for fuel systems for Asia in Wuhan, in 2019.
The innovation investments are part of Plastic Omnium’s strategy to maintain its leading position in exterior modules and equipment supplier for propulsion energies in the future.
The investment plan also includes four new plants, one in China, one in India, and two in the U.S., which are set to be launched in 2018. The U.S. facilities include the Greer plant in South Carolina which is pilot plant for the deployment of Industry 4.0 of the future within the company.
Additionally, the company aims to launch three plants in 2019 in India, Morocco and Slovakia.
On the financial front, Plastic Omnium confirmed that despite “adverse” currency effects, its 2017 revenue would reach 8 billion euros ($9.4 billion), nearly 16 percent higher than the 6.9 billion euros ($8.1 billion) achieved last year.
In September, the company announced it was selling its waste management business unit, Environment Division, as part of its strategy to focus exclusively on its automotive operation.
The company said they expected revenue to reach 10 billion euros (11.8 billion) in 2021.
In terms of segment growth, Plastic Omnium said it expected to boost its market share in bumpers to 19 percent by 2021, up from 16 percent in 2017. Similarly, the French supplier expects to increase its market share for fuel systems from 22 percent today to 25 percent by 2021.
Regarding its portfolio of innovative products, the company expects to improve market share for thermoplastic tailgates to 45 percent by 2021, up from 40 percent in 2017. The company currently holds 17 percent SCR systems market share, which it aims to grow to 26 percent in four years.