„The bond of power, passion and performance“
Company with a proud tradition prepares to face the future
Innovativeness, dynamism, commitment and an unshakable will – these are the values represented by the DTM racing team Abt and the company of the same name, Abt Sportsline in Kempten. A family-run company with a proud tradition prepares to face the future. E-mobility now complements the company’s portfolio, whether it be in their racing activities or in the manufacture of electric commercial vehicles. Like Bihler, Abt has a will to succeed, a wealth of new ideas and the passion to make it a powerhouse of innovation.
Mathias Bihler: Mr. Abt, we have a lot in common. Our team culture, how we work with people to spur them on to achieve the best possible results. And in motor racing in particular. You have to push the limits of what is technically possible to have a chance of winning.
Hans-Jürgen Abt: Exactly, it’s in our DNA to go from the race track to the road. My father already exemplified this mindset. That’s been our philosophy for 125 years. We’ve been actively engaged in motor sports for 70 years. We have always been involved in motor sports to demonstrate our innovativeness. But to lead the teams as well. That’s about the need to deliver results in racing! You work hard all week in order to make sure that everything is the best it can be when the grid lines up at 9 o’clock on Sunday morning. The team has to be well organized and the material has to be right. It’s a chain, a process that has evolved. And as the boss, you have to set the example. A family business, like you as well, is in a better position to act in this way. It is this structure that gives you the opportunity to make the venture financially successful.
Mathias Bihler: The strength of Bihler lies in the many highly qualified people who identify with the product, making it possible to emerge victorious in the face of global competition. Our customers are like racing drivers in a race against global players. Which is why we also strive to get the maximum out of our machines and processes. The process is essentially the fine-tuning that we do to allow high-quality components to be manufactured reproducibly with the least amount of material. But how do you deal with change? After all, you are closely associated with the combustion engine. And the same is true of us. Many of our customers manufacture products used in combustion engines. But we have also developed solutions in the field of e-mobility. For instance busbars or hairpins.
Hans-Jürgen Abt: We can agree on that. As far as transformation is concerned, for instance e-mobility or fuel cells – that’s what the auto motive industry is calling for. We are currently involved in a development for Bosch in the hydrogen sector, and this will be presented at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show. In these areas, our approach is to fall back on components. We don’t have to make a finished product ourselves. Our job is to do the engineering, and we then have it manufactured. To do this we have 70 engineers, software specialists and managers. We are involved in prototyping and produce pilot series. This is also the way our business model is structured in our core business. After all, our background is in tuning and refining. For instance, we take a basic package from Audi. We then modify it again. Take it to a new dimension. We then turn it into a limited edition special series. And these are usually sold out. After all, everyone wants a limited edition car. It is a business model with annual sales of around 100 million euros from a workforce of about 250. It is important to us that we are not dependent on anyone. This makes us resilient to crises. Our strength lies in speed and efficiency, which also make us more cost-efficient. We have also been active in the field of e-mobility since 2009 as Abt E-Line. For example, we developed a complete powertrain for VW. That was VW Commercial Vehicles’ first step into e-mobility. The Abt T 6 bus was also exciting for us – to be able to build 4500 cars. Now we are working on developing our own battery.
"We have always been involved in motor sports to demonstrate our innovativeness. E-mobility will be an important source of income. It will continue to develop. We want to be there with our products and be part of it." Hans-Jürgen Abt
Mathias Bihler: In our case, the machine is the platform. Then we develop the actual production process on the machine specifically for the customer. We are constantly looking for other processes to optimize. So that we can ultimately offer the customer a real benefit. Much the same as tuning a vehicle. It’s the same precision that we see in your cars: everything has to be perfectly tuned. Let’s go back to your involvement in motor sports. What do you take from your experience in Formula E?
"The process is essentially the fine-tuning that we do to allow high-quality components to be manufactured reproducibly with the least amount of material." Mathias Bihler
Hans-Jürgen Abt: Our philosophy is that when we develop something for the roads, we advertise it in the world of racing. To give people a real feeling for it. So that people understand it. We were a founding member of the Formula E series. If we go racing, we have a product to go with it. So we launched the E-Line. We were very successful in our E-racing, and won the world championship. The technological insight we gained is that energy management, temperature and efficiency are the crucial things in e-mobility. Everyone talks about range and performance. What’s important is consumption. In the racing series, it is precisely these key criteria on which you are judged. Of course, the objective is to allow the insights of the engineers in the racing environment to flow into series production. We have magnificent synergy effects in-house. To start with, we were involved in E-racing on our own. Then we became the Audi works team. At present, we’re just about to enter Formula E again as a private team. We are well prepared. The series is developing all the time. We are the most successful team after seven years of this series. It’s not about the smell of gasoline, but about sporting ambition. You can showcase sport and technology. E-mobility will continue to develop. E-mobility will not replace everything else, but it will be an important source of income. We want to be there with our products and be part of it. We have the combustion engine, we have e-mobility, and we will build up hydrogen technology as another pillar of our innovation company. This is how we refer to ourselves. But that’s why motor sports are also part of our life. That’s how we live our life!
The success story of the Kempten-based, family-run German company Abt started 125 years ago. Their business covers engineering, motor racing and tuning for vehicles from carmakers Audi, Seat, Škoda, Cupra and Volkswagen. Abt is active in the German Touring Car Championship DTM, Formula E and the Extreme E series. As of 2009, Abt has also been represented in the E-mobility sector with its Abt E-Line. The Managing Partner of the company is Hans-Jürgen Abt (59). The company headquarters houses a museum dedicated to the history of the company. From its roots in a blacksmith’s shop for horse-drawn vehicles, the company has evolved into a globally active, innovative force in the mobility industry and flagship of the Allgäu economy.