Benteler AG Business report FY2009

Business Highlights

Financial Overview

(in million euros)
  FY2009 FY2008 Rate of change
Sales 4,563.8 6,327.4 (27.9) -
Automotive division
Sales 3,604.5 4,579.8 (21.3) 1)

Chassis Systems Product Group
-The Chassis Systems Product Group's sales were down 23%.
-Component sales were down 15% for the year; sales for front and
rear suspension modules were down 26%.
-The factors that lowered sales by about 10% against the previous year are; one customer’s changeover to procuring materials directly, revenue
losses from Chrysler’s insolvency, and the closure of a production operation in Japan.

Structures Product Group
-The Structures generated 11% less sales than the year before.
-North American market suffered particularly severe effects.

Engine and Exhaust Systems Product Group
-The Engine and Exhaust Systems Product Group's sales revenues were down 32% in 2009.
-In addition to the volume decreases that Company planning had already anticipated in the American market, sales volumes also declined sharply in Europe.
-North America and South America saw decreases of about 50%. Most of the decrease was felt in the exhaust systems business in North America, which was down 51% against the year before.

Engineering Services Product Group
-Engineering sales were down 21% against a year earlier. This change
primarily affected the site in the Netherlands.
-By contrast, sales in mechanical engineering were down only slightly.

Joint Ventures
-The Company founded a joint venture with European carbon fiber maker SGL Group. Benteler SGL GmbH & Co. KG, headquartered in Paderborn,
pools the capabilities of Benteler Automotive and the SGL Group in automotive component production and development, and in the production of carbon fibers and semifinished materials.

-In Feb. 2009, Benteler-SGL GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, has acquired the Austrian company Fischer Composite Technology GmbH (FCT). Benteler-SGL GmbH & Co. KG is a joint venture of Benteler AG and the SGL Group of Germany. The joint venture manufactures and distributes composite components based on carbon-fibers (CFRPs) for the automotive industry. FCT is a supplier of automotive composite components and the product portfolio includes exterior components such as sideblades and doors. (From a press release on Feb. 9, 2009)

-In October 2009, the Company announced that it will acquire the Automotive Structures Business of Norsk Hydro ASA. The Business manufactures aluminum components, such as bumpers, roll-over protection systems and crash management systems as well as structural parts. It has eleven production sites globally - main operation in Raufoss, Norway, and other plants in the USA, China, Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark, France and Germany. The unit generated 260 million euros in 2008. (From a press release on Oct. 27, 2009)


R&D Expenditure

(in million euros)
  FY2009 FY2008 FY2007
Overall 95.8 123.3 109.3

Product Development

-Through the joint venture, Benteler SGL GmbH & Co. KG, the Company identified components in which to use a steel-CFP composite that can reduce weight or increase performance significantly for a reasonable additional cost. Studies showed weight savings of up to 50 %, depending on the component. The innovative composite can be used, for example, to make CFP-reinforced B-pillars that are designed individually to meet particular crash resistance requirements. A variety of approaches were also developed to make the technology suitable for large series production.

-Further prototype tubes for airbag gas components were supplied to all leading airbag makers worldwide in 2009, to support their series-production startups in the medium and longer term. Optimizing production and heat-treatment processes has made it possible to expand the applications of hardening materials even further.

-Tubular stabilizers weigh up to 30 to 40 % less than solid stabilizers. The Steel/Tube supports the Automotive’s introduction of this product on the market by producing high-strength, water-quenched and tempered manganese-boron steels with mechanical characteristics custom-tailored to this application. A first series-production order for this kind of stabilizer tube for sports vehicles was acquired during the year. Even though they have a strength of more than 1,200 MPa, these tubes can still be cold-bent, so that customers can eliminate the expensive heat treatment that otherwise would be absolutely necessary.

Door reinforcements
-For side impact protection in passenger cars, the Company developed a variant made of a single tube that offers better crash performance, at lower cost, than the current two-tube solution. Further advantages result from the less expensive material and lower production cost.

Materials and lightweight construction in automobiles
-To meet the future challenges of lightweight vehicle construction with continuous fiber reinforced plastics like CRP and GRP (carbon and glass-reinforced plastics), the joint venture Benteler SGL GmbH & Co. KG, founded in 2008, develops ready-for-mass-production part designs using these materials. As an example of lightweight structural construction, the Company is working with German car manufacturers on the concept of steel-FRP (FRP = fiber-reinforced plastic) hybrid technology using the example of a B-pillar. Benteler SGL is testing the technology using CAE methods and substitute tests, to be followed by a whole-vehicle crash test at the customer’s facility. A further application being developed for fiber reinforced materials in automotive construction is a steel-FRP hybrid concept for natural gas tanks that combines cost-effective construction from lightweight materials with flexible production technology. This new configuration can reduce weight as much as 50 % from the usual steel solution. The 2009 takeover of the Fischer Composite Technology (FCT) production site in Ried, Austria, has now given Benteler SGL a way of producing components using RTM (resin transfer molding) and prepreg technology on an industrial scale. Applications of RTM technology in making chassis springs are currently being tested, with the aim of taking the Company’s own technology onto the market in the future.

Investment Activities

Capital Expenditure

(in million euros)
  FY2009 FY2008 FY2007
Overall 144 208 318
Automotive division 104 133 132

-The Company invested 144 million euros during the year. Out of the total amount, 135 million euros was for tangible fixed assets.

-Of the total, 104 million euros, or 72 %, went for production facilities and equipment in the Automotive Division. Among the important single projects were axle projects for Renault in France, Ford in Mexico and Mercedes in China. Major investments to build new plants in 2009 went for locations in Slovakia and China.

Investments Outside Germany

-Automotive Division built a module assembly plant for the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza.