Profile: Valeo China President since 2012 May, Edouard de Pirey began his career as Director of Industry, Mines and Energy for New Caledonia (2003-2006) before becoming Deputy Head of the “Energy, shareholdings, industry and innovation” Office in the Budget Department of the French Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry (2006-2007). In 2007, he joined the Office of Valérie Pécresse, French Minister of Higher Education and Research, as Technical Adviser for Science and Technology, then as Adviser for Sciences, Technology and Space. He became Group Vice-President Corporate Planning & Strategy at Valeo in 2009. Edouard de Pirey graduated in mathematics from École Normale Supérieure (Ulm), before qualifying as an engineer at École National Supérieure des Mines de Paris.
About: Valeo (China), the world’s leading automotive systems, automotive sector and automotive parts supplier, has now ushered in its 20th anniversary in China. It has remarkable achievements in China, the world’s largest and fastest-growing market. Until 2014, Valeo (China) has 26 production sites, three research centers and one distribution platform with 15,000 employees, which indicates that China has become the first country in terms of employees with conspicuous attentions by the Group. According to the localization concept of “Be Chinese in China”, Valeo (China) aims at improving technological innovation and strengthening strategic cooperation with local brands, so as to achieve the strategic goals of doubling its sales in every four years, as well as to make China as the first country in terms of sales in 2016.
Mobile World: This year welcomes the 20th anniversary of Valeo in China; could you please briefly talk about the development of Valeo in China, as well as the sales target of this year in China?
Edouard de Pirey: Valeo is celebrating its 20 years anniversary in China in 2014. This great achievement is the result of our full dedication to this biggest and fastest growing market in the world. In 2013, China represented 13% of our sales and 24% of our order intake. Valeo China has 26 production sites, three research centers and one distribution platform with 15,000 employees. China has already become the first country in terms of employees. In 2016, China will become the first country in terms of sales. Valeo plans to double its sales in every four years. This is why the Group is investing so much in China, more than 1 billion RMB a year. The Group’s core strategies have allowed Valeo to grow faster than the market for over five years and will support further growth.
MW: Which whole-vehicle enterprises does Valeo have co-operations with? During the process of working with self-owned brands, which aspects do you think self-owned brands should improve?
Edouard de Pirey: Valeo has cooperated with many known domestic complete vehicle brands since first setting up business in China. Valeo provides products meeting the needs of market for domestic complete vehicle brands. Valeo has followed a comprehensive path in four steps: serve its traditional international customers, develop business with Chinese car markets, develop in China for Chinese market and develop technologies for the world market for China. For Valeo, it is essential to support automakers locally in order to develop products tailored to the market and to be as close as possible to their production plans to satisfy local demand and ensure timely delivery.
MW: Valeo has achieved great performance in the first half of this year in China, how do you predict Valeo’s sales and earnings of this year, and also the targets in the next year?
Edouard de Pirey: In spite of the depression of global automotive industry, Valeo still outperformed the market in the first half 2014. Valeo will continue to progress and further improve our performance, for the satisfaction of our customers, our shareholders and our employees alike. In the first half 2014, the order intake in China accounted for 27% worldwide, OE sales were up 36%, beating the automotive market by 25 percentage points. It’s the reflection of continuous development of the Group for China market. Valeo China aims to double its sales every four years.
MW: Many worldwide famous auto parts giants including Rexroth have spent great efforts on energy-saving technology, in terms of promoting their sales growth in China, how about Valeo? Does Valeo have any investment plan for this aspect?
Edouard de Pirey: Creating technologies and products in line with the market while anticipating demand: these are fundamental principles of Valeo’s research and development strategy. CO2 emissions reduction is in fact one of the main trends for the industry and Valeo is developing very innovative solutions in that field: from hybridization (we were the inventor of the stop-start technology), to enhancing thermal systems to lower the consumption of engines, notably turbocharged engines, as well as for lower consumption accessories like LED lighting. One of our latest technologies in that CO2 emissions reduction field is the electric supercharger that allows to downsize even further the engine of a certain car, without downgrading neither it performance nor its driving experience, for a really affordable cost. This reflects well the spirit of innovation in Valeo.
MW: In comparison to the relatively slow development in Europe, Valeo is growing rapidly in China during recent years. We want to know whether Valeo will adjust its global strategy, and from which aspects it’s going to expand in China.
Edouard de Pirey: Valeo is fully committed to China, its first country in terms of employees as of this year and in terms of sales as of 2016. China is in fact not only the biggest market in the world; it is also the fastest growing. And this will continue, even if there may be some short-term ups and downs. This is why we invest so much in China, opening new plants and setting up new research and development centers. This is why the Group is also developing local teams. “Be Chinese in China” is Valeo China goal, letting Chinese teams develop the business, develop the technologies and lead operations in China.
MW: Valeo has announced the direction from “made in China” to “design from China” in the future with persistence of localization strategy. What do you think are the challenges for Valeo to research and develop new technology in China?
Edouard de Pirey: It is our innovation spirit to stick to the market trends and needs for developing new technologies. It is also our duty to support automakers locally in order to better serve them. Benefiting from Valeo’s global R&D strength, Valeo China’s R&D capabilities are now well established. Currently, we have ten development centers and three research centers. It is in line with its “Be Chinese in China” Philosophy.
MW: Many people believe that automated driving is the direction of the future, as a consequence, many automobile enterprises and IT companies release relative technologies successively, for example, Google. How about Valeo? Does automated driving mean something to Valeo?
Edouard de Pirey: Intuitive driving is our second strategic pillar for innovation, along with CO2 emission reduction. In fact, we are convinced that automated cars are going to become a long trend in the industry. And we are one of the first comers as the Park4U technology inventor, and now the Number one supplier worldwide for automated cars technologies. Our view is also that automated cars should be taken together with human machine interfaces as this is the key for the driver to manage the transition phases between automated driving and manual driving.
MW: How do you think about the influences reflected by purchase-restrictions and anti-monopoly policy to the China’s auto market?
Edouard de Pirey: We will naturally comply with all related regulations for this business, whatever direction is given by the authorities. Valeo is not only present in the original equipment market but also in the aftermarket, through car manufacturers’ 4S network as well as under its own brand. We notably have a flagship store on Tmall since 2013. We will naturally comply with all related regulations for this business, whatever direction is given by the authorities.
-Published on pages#22 & 23 November-2014 edition of MOBILE WORLD Magazine