Over 500 million euros. The record sales of Punch Powertrain in Sint-Truiden in 2016. A whopping 50% more than the year before, during which the specialist in stepless transmissions had already doubled its sales. The company expects to reach the 1.5 billion euro mark by 2020.
Sint-Truiden has been the scene of fascinating growth. Seven years ago, Punch Powertrain almost went bankrupt. A number of investors such as LRM and the Flemish investment firm Gimv decided to take the risk to inject capital into the venture, while CEO Cor van Otterloo managed to breathe new life into the company by focusing on CVT transmission systems for the Asian market.
Record sales netted in Asian markets
2016 ended with a turnover of over 500 million euros. A figure confirmed by Punch Powertrain CEO Cor van Otterloo to the daily newspaper Het Belang van Limburg. These sales were generated in countries like China, Malaysia and Taiwan. Geely, the Chinese owner of Volvo, is currently the biggest customer, with one of its best-selling sedans in China equipped with the Punch CVT.
In China, Punch Powertrain supplies some 15 car manufacturers and also has a production site. This allows the company to tap into the growing car market of this vast country.
Chinese investment in Sint-Truiden
The sale of the Belgian company to the Chinese group Yinyi was the other big event of 2016.
Van Otterloo is convinced this sale is very good news. “Our shareholder only talks about investing… in Sint-Truiden. And there isn’t a Chinese executive watching over my shoulder. Since R&D and the production of key components remain in Sint-Truiden, the anchoring of Punch Powertrain in Belgium is secured.”
Hundreds of additional jobs in automotive
“In 2007 we had 17 men in our R&D. Today more than 300 people,” Cor van Otterloo said in a previous interview with BeAutomotive. “This number will keep growing as a result of our forthcoming plans. After Toyota, we have the largest R&D department in the Belgian automotive industry.”
A new R&D complex with a testing centre – that requires a total of 500 experts – and expansion of the production facility will eventually add another 280 jobs at the headquarters.
The new R&D complex, including a new test centre with different test rigs, a new prototype workshop and a high-tech test track will lead to the creation of 130 R&D jobs and 50 supporting jobs. Additionally, increased production capacity in Sint-Truiden will create another 100 new jobs.
Punch Powertrain created 722 new jobs in 2016 across the 3 facilities of Sint-Truiden, Nanjing and Eindhoven. Both the Sint-Truiden and Nanjing sites, which are similar in size, experienced a similar growth of about 60% in 2016.
Another 1 billion euros over 4 years
The future looks bright for Punch Powertrain. A few key figures?
- Over the next five years, Punch Powertrain will invest 400 million euros in further growth.
- At present, 60 million euros have been invested in the Sint-Truiden plant, especially in manufacturing.
- A new development centre will be built next to the existing plant.
- Punch expects to reach a turnover of 1.5 billion euros by 2020. Or another one billion euros over 4 years.
- By 2021 Punch hopes to get its first European car manufacturer as a customer.
- The workforce in HQ in Sint-Truiden is set to rise from its present level of 870 employees to over 1,500 by 2020.