Is innovation the key to your market-beating performance?
J.A. – Absolutely. Innovation is our main growth engine. Automotive production has regained its place as one of the most innovative industries in the world, particularly in the areas of energy efficiency and connected cars. Valeo is undoubtedly a forerunner in these areas, which are front of mind for consumers. Since 2013, innovative products have accounted for more than 30% of the Group’s order intake. And in 2015, our order intake increased by 15% to a record high of 20.1 billion euros, thanks to massive investments in Research and Development from 2009 despite the financial crisis. Since then, we have doubled our spending in this area, investing almost 11% of original equipment sales in Research and Development in 2015, one of the highest levels in the automotive industry. We have worked extremely hard to ensure that our customers associate ’Made in Valeo’ with excellence, boldness and innovation.
You’re focusing in particular on clean, connected, delegated-driving vehicles, a market in which high-tech giants are also showing a strong interest. Why is this?
J.A. – We are already the world leader in driving assistance, with technologies that enable vehicles to park themselves or drive autonomously in urban environments. We strongly believe that connected and autonomous vehicles are a genuine consumer aspiration. Market studies show that factors such as the quality of the in-vehicle experience and the possibility of using time in the car to do things other than drive are top consumer concerns, along with fuel efficiency and safety. Valeo is best placed to meet these needs, with artificial intelligence software to rival any tech company. We further strengthened our expertise in late 2015 with the acquisition of peiker, a move that will enable us to offer automakers new telematics systems featuring high-speed connectivity and cybersecurity functions. The reality is that regulations and behaviors are the biggest obstacles to bringing autonomous cars to the market, not technology. It will take time for drivers to place their trust in vehicle intelligence, and it’s our job to convince them to do so.
How important are acquisitions and partnerships for continued innovation?
J.A. – Our innovation is becoming increasingly open, agile and digital, with an ever greater focus on sustainable mobility. We have simplified our decision-making process so that we can react more quickly and we share our research issues with a diverse range of partners including universities, large groups such as Safran, and start-ups. We currently have more than 12,000 researchers working for us across the world in close collaboration with our customers and with partners selected from among the best in their fields. We have had a presence in Silicon Valley for several years now, helping us to keep in tune with a start-up ecosystem that nurtures creativity, responsiveness and rapidity. Digital technology is set to disrupt the mobility market, which will unlock significant growth potential for Valeo. We must seize these opportunities and provide solutions for changing expectations and new customers.
VALEO / 2015 ACTIVITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT REPORT