Focus on research and development
Research and development (R&D) expenditure, including capitalized development costs, amounted to EUR 76.1 million in the 2020 financial year (2019: EUR 80.8 million). This equates to an R&D ratio of 5.1% (2019: 4.7%), which is within the target range of around 5–6%. Although most of the expenditure was attributable to the Lightweighting/Elastomer Technology and E-Mobility units, ElringKlinger also pushed on with development projects in traditional product areas such as shielding technology and sealing technology to make vehicles more efficient with the help of technical optimizations.
It is the Group’s employees whose tinkering, thinking, testing, and tweaking combine to make the future slightly more sustainable. Day in, day out, they actively embrace the culture of innovation that allows them to see things beyond their own horizons. Despite the challenging circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, ElringKlinger nevertheless increased its R&D headcount to 623 in the 2020 financial year (2019: 611). ElringKlinger has largely centralized its R&D operations to prevent technology transfer and a “brain drain.” These development activities are mainly concentrated at the Original Equipment and Engineered Plastics sites in Germany and at the US sites in the Detroit area and Michigan. All the company’s other sites largely handle comparably minor development tasks and adjustments.
Besides maintaining a central R&D organization, protecting its intellectual property rights is also a core component of ElringKlinger’s R&D work. A total of 86 property rights were registered in 2020, 41 of which relate to batteries and fuel cells. Intellectual property rights are protected in order to prevent fakes and secure the potential return on the investments made in researching and developing the products at an early stage. Protection against imitations of ElringKlinger products is guaranteed by ensuring that products are only sold to customers by ElringKlinger directly and by applying distinctive features to the products themselves. A thorough quality assurance process also inspects raw and other materials received from suppliers to exclude the possibility of raw materials being contaminated or counterfeited.