Other Engineering Companies & Coachbuilder
The Audi A4 Convertible, Mercedes-Benz CLK Convertible, Chrysler Crossfire Coupe and Chrysler Crossfire Roadster models produced in the Osnabrueck and Rheine factories have also entered the second-half of their life-cycle. The production dropped correspondingly from 54,500 units in the previous year to 48,120 vehicles. One-hundred and thirty eight Audi A4 Convertibles, 58 Mercedes-Benz CLK Convertibles and 19 Chrysler Crossfires rolled off the production line every workday in December 2006.
Karmann responded to the changing market environment with the introduction of a modified strategy in the Vehicle Production business sector. The newly established business sector “Specialty Cars” allows the company to concentrate on micro-volume niche vehicles. The Spyker Spyder acts simultaneously as reference project and flagship. Ninety-four painted chassis were produced in 2006.
Even though the micro-volume and specialty cars runs will play an increasingly important role in the Vehicle Production section in the future, larger projects, however, with niche vehicles and quantities between 15,000 and 20,000 vehicles annually remain the focus of the acquisition strategy. In addition, Karmann has added another service to its already comprehensive portfolio. Up to 100,000 vehicles can be painted annually in our unique to Europe automobile paint line. Three-hundred and sixty different color tones meet the huge array of demands made by each manufacturer. A total of 125 m. Euro was invested in the new automobile paint line.
Within the Karmann Group of Companies, Vehicle Engineering Division is operating at near to full capacity owing to contractually fixed projects. On top of this comes the creation of frequent extremely complex concepts during the course of acquisition plans, as a result capacity restrictions are emerging in several sectors. In order to remain competitive from the cost point of view, engineering resources at the international sites are used to maintain and safeguard quality. Cooperation with low-wage sites within the Karmann Group permit hybrid-costing, through which additional project orders can be generated.
To complement the existing service spectrum, a new subsidiary firm was established that should also expand the customer group beyond the automobile industry: With almost 50 employees Karmann Engineering Services has positioned itself as engineering service provider for product development. The aerospace industry and also agricultural machinery manufacturers are potential project partners.
During 2006 more than 151,000 roof systems were produced at the sites in Osnabrueck, Rheine, Puebla (Mexico), Plymouth (USA) and Sunderland (England) for the Renault Mégane CC, Nissan C+C and Pontiac G6 Convertible (all Retractable Hardtops) as well as the Mercedes-Benz CLK Convertible, Audi A4 Convertible, Chrysler Crossfire Roadster, VW New Beetle Convertible, Spyker Spyder and a vehicle from an English premium brand (all softtops) - almost 20,000 more than the previous year. This growth is bolstered by strong demand in the USA: Karmann USA produced more than 20,000 roof modules for the Pontiac G6 Convertible in the first production year. The start of production begins for a second high-volume project in North America – the Chrysler Sebring Convertible. The successor to America’s best selling Convertible is the first four-seater open-topped car model to offer customers the choice between two softtop versions and a painted retractable hardtop. A third project is due to be announced shortly. A total of five development projects are scheduled to go into production in North America and Europe.
Karmann has expanded its manufacturing capacities and successfully implemented new forms of cooperation to deal with growing quality control demands and to be able to produce higher quantities. The company started producing Micra C+C roof modules directly in the Nissan factory in Sunderland, England during the first half of 2005. To become even more attractive to other Japanese manufacturers the company opened an office in Yokohama. The new presence is an important element of the Asian strategy, which mainly concentrates on the Japanese and Korean markets. Existing customers can receive even more comprehensive support and advice.
Production & Tool Systems
The Production Technology business sector recorded a positive result in an extremely hard fought market environment: Over capacity still places a heavy strain on the branch despite the number of company insolvencies over the previous years. As a consequence of excessive supply the prices tumbled by up to 30 per cent within a year in several component disciplines.
Karmann reacted to these structural market changes by implementing a comprehensive restructuring program. Two new methods to optimize efficiency were implemented in all planning and production processes. The “Kaizen” production philosophy describes ‘continuous improvement’ as the foundation for a functioning manufacturing system.
Innovations such as the modular designed and, in the meantime, patented “Tool-in-Tool Tooling Concept” has also eased the acquisition of new projects. Growth of the Roof Systems business sector in the US market had positive effects. Production Technology was also responsible for the production facilities in Plymouth (Michigan/USA).
Since December 2006, a new factory close to Kattowitz (Poland) helps to improve the cost structure in the Production Systems sector. In addition to cost benefits the new factory should also develop new markets.
March 08, 2007