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The mobility turnaround, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the chip shortage in the automotive industry – 2021 did not provide an easy start for the new Management Board of the family-owned company Hirschvogel. Their mandate: To drive forward the transformation of Hirschvogel, as a global supplier, and to help shape the mobility of the future.
Given the challenging circumstances, the headquarters in Denklingen, Germany, is satisfied with the results of the past year. The company generated around 1.2 billion euros in sales in 2021, representing a slight increase on the previous year’s figure. “Thanks to the commitment and great flexibility of our employees, we have fortunately pulled through well, and we have the means to keep evolving,” says Walter Bauer, Chief Financial Officer since December 2020. According to Dr. Dirk Landgrebe, who returned to the company in January 2021 as Chief Operating Officer, it is also helpful that, at Hirschvogel, the focus is not on quarterly results, but rather on sustainable success: “This is an attitude that also many employees feel and adopt. From that comes innovation strength.” Jörg Rückauf is likewise impressed by this forward-looking spirit. Rückauf, who moved from the Mahle Group to join Hirschvogel as Chief Executive Officer in summer 2021, emphasizes: “It’s the people who make Hirschvogel. Together, we can achieve what we have set out to do.”
Decisive for the future course of the Group is the strategy that was realigned last year. At its heart is green business, i.e., zero-carbon mobility concepts. “In order to secure growth and employment at all locations, now and for future generations, we are currently intensifying our efforts to align the components business in the automotive area toward E-mobility and drive independence. At the same time, we want to grow into related technologies and markets through shareholdings,” says Jörg Rückauf.
This dual strategy is already yielding success: An impressive 70 percent of the orders won in 2021 are now contributing to green business, as are additional major orders in Q1 2022. All plants worldwide will profit from this. With the establishment of the bike and micromobility business area, Hirschvogel has now also ventured beyond the automotive industry.
It was therefore only logical that the company then decided to align its corporate structure at the beginning of 2022, turning the “Hirschvogel Automotive Group” into the “Hirschvogel Group”. The new structure unites nine production companies and two affiliated companies for managing shareholdings under one roof. During this restructuring process, the shareholding portfolio was also reorganized. This is because all efforts at Hirschvogel – no matter if they involve shareholdings in other companies or if they involve component production – are being channeled into the green growth business. 67 percent of the total investment flowed into this area in 2021. And, in 2022, the company will likewise be investing in the future. Group-wide, an investment sum of around 174 million euros has been earmarked. However, in view of the Russia-Ukraine war, CFO Walter Bauer remains cautious: “With our strategy and the new corporate structure, we have laid the foundation for the continued sustainable success of the Hirschvogel Group. However, the current world situation holds enormous uncertainties – with respect to supply chains, costs, and the availability of raw materials as well as energy, to name just a few. This will encumber and restrict us. To what extent, we cannot yet foresee.”
Against this backdrop, the fact that Hirschvogel’s green business aims not only at achieving a “green” product world, but also at attaining sustainable operations across the entire company, takes on additional significance. Hirschvogel centralized its sustainability management in 2021 and committed itself to ecological, economic and social sustainability development in accordance with the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainability Development Goals. The urgent task is to decarbonize its energy-intensive production. Worldwide, 300 GWh of electricity and 115 GWh of natural gas flow into it every year. “We are in the process of reducing natural gas consumption, electrifying our production processes, and switching to green power. At our German plants, we have been sourcing electricity exclusively from renewable energies since the beginning of the year. This switch will be achieved at international level by 2025.
Furthermore, we want to cover the base load of our plants through our own regional photovoltaic projects,” says COO Dirk Landgrebe. Hirschvogel is certainly setting course for the future in more ways than one.
Fig. 1: The Management Board of Hirschvogel Holding GmbH (From left: Jörg Rückauf – CEO, Walter Bauer – CFO, and Dr. Dirk Landgrebe – COO) © Hirschvogel Holding
Fig. 2: The Management Board of Hirschvogel Holding GmbH (From left: Walter Bauer – CFO, Jörg Rückauf – CEO, and Dr. Dirk Landgrebe – COO) © Hirschvogel Holding
Fig. 3: Rotor shaft with gears for electric motors – as one of the largest suppliers of rotor shafts, Hirschvogel is the ideal partner when it comes to development and serial production. © Hirschvogel Holding
Fig. 4: Differential bevel gears expand the range of Hirschvogel components that are independent of the drive concept. In electric vehicles, in particular, the differential needs to transmit large torques. © Hirschvogel Holding
Fig. 5: Hirschvogel is currently expanding its plant in Denklingen, including the addition of a company restaurant and central building. © Hirschvogel Holding