When we look back on 2017, it is clear that a profound shift has taken place in the automotive industry – a shift that will be a significant factor for us in the coming years. This means that the decades in which we could simply optimize our vehicles is over: the revolution brings with it fundamental infrastructural changes. At the moment, it seems as if battery technology for electric vehicles is developing at a much faster pace than the charging infrastructure. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by not only local municipalities and energy companies but also private investors. On the other hand, progress is also being made in the development of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels. Our current, high-quality internal combustion engines only require minimal upgrades in order to be compatible with these new fuels.
Self-driving cars are another trend that shows no signs of slowing down, even though there are a still number of legal questions to be addressed. Semi-autonomous operation is essentially already standard in luxury-class sedans and it has been successful so far. For us as a company, it is important that we keep up with all of the major industry trends. We have been able to utilize our existing expertise as a platform to foster new developments and create new products, and we are confident that we will continue to prosper in the future. From an operational standpoint, 2017 was also a very smooth year for Hirschmann Automotive. We received an A rating in nearly all of our customer evaluations and audits in all of the regions in which we are active. On the NAFTA market, the business has developed even more dynamically than our most optimistic projections expected. Our business continues to grow in both China and Europe. Despite the fact that our company continues to expand, we have successfully maintained and fostered our unique Hirschmann culture. We remain the industry leader in our field and will continue to serve our customers and support our employees to the best of our abilities in the coming year.