Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) announced in Berlin few days ago that it has entered into an agreement to purchase an equity stake in INPRO, a joint venture dedicated to collaborative innovation in automotive production.
SABIC will join Daimler, Siemens, ThyssenKrupp and Volkswagen as equity owners in the group. The Federal State of Berlin has also held shares in INPRO since its founding in 1983. SABIC comes to the JV with 45 years’ experience as a leading industry pioneer in automotive engineering plastics material technologies and application development, primarily through the dedicated automotive division of its Innovative Plastics strategic business unit, and will fully participate in INPRO’s joint innovation projects. Joining the INPRO JV reflects SABIC’s decades-long record of proactive engagement with the industry to advance lightweight material innovation across the world and to help OEM customers solve some of their most critical challenges.
INPRO develops innovative technologies for lightweight manufacturing and zero-defect production of automobiles. The group’s R&D focus includes the development of new production technologies for future electric and hybrid vehicles. With the realization of new innovative computer-based software tools, INPRO aims to shorten time-to-market and enhance the overall energy efficiency of automotive production.
“With one of the world’s broadest thermoplastics portfolios, SABIC is a welcome addition to our business model of collaborative innovation,” said INPRO CEO Dr. Gerd Eßer. “Innovative materials are critical to the evolution and success of the automotive production process and are vital in lightweight component construction, increased fuel efficiency, high performance and lower production costs. We are pleased to have SABIC join us, especially given the company’s proven ability over many decades in successfully co-innovating with automakers and tiers worldwide and the increasingly important role of thermoplastics materials in the industry. We believe INPRO will be even better equipped in the future to innovate in lightweight material production systems with SABIC as a partner.”
“Through INPRO, SABIC can participate and add value in the early stages of innovation with world-class companies, who continue to develop and create new vehicles and processes that meet the interests of automakers and consumers around the world,” said Gregory A. Adams, vice president of Innovative Plastics’ automotive division. “In contributing to the success of INPRO’s innovation activities, we will draw upon the knowledge of our six worldwide application development centers and our materials science. We look forward to contributing to INPRO’s joint innovation projects to help produce the industry’s next generation of advanced vehicles using high-performance, lightweight materials.”
INPRO has driven important technological innovations in automotive production over its 28-year history, including the introduction of high power solid state lasers – a key technology for weight reduction and enhanced passenger safety. INPRO has contributed significantly to the advancement of computer aided engineering in the automotive industry. One example of this lies in INPRO’s pioneering work in finite element simulation of sheet metal forming, which has allowed for significant cost and time reductions in toolmaking.
According to Joachim von Heimburg, Ph.D., SABIC’s general manager of global innovation and corporate research programs: “Today, more than ever before, breakthrough innovation is only possible through an ecosystem of interdependent industry leaders who know how to work together across the global value chain. As such, INPRO is an excellent fit for us and serves as yet another example of how we engage in the kind of collaboration that is necessary to fuel and accelerate automotive innovation. In addition, we see opportunity to draw from our experience with INPRO to help our corporate innovation and R&D organization realize technology breakthroughs with customers in other industries and markets.”
The transaction is expected to close before the end of 2011 and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. No additional terms are available for disclosure.