Trendsetter of Automotive Industry
I believe it is better to have a challenge than having no challenge, and with the increase in demands of our customers, it is a luxury challenge: President and Managing Director, Webasto
Sunroofs were until recently not considered as a ‘must have’ product for automotive customers. The thought of sunroofs in a country with a tropical climate was challenging. However, Vikas Prasad created the need and enticed a requisite for sunroofs to be installed in cars in India. The sunroof manufacturing sector has seen growth by leaps and bounds and has been making real strides in the automotive sector as OEMs realized that sunroof as a feature not only symbolized freedom but made the cars roomy and livelier. Gen X and Gen Z have grown a particular liking for sunroofs in their vehicles which has paved the path for Webasto to spearhead the sunroofs in the main league as a feature in the cars being sold in India.
The Webasto Group is a global innovative systems partner to almost all automobile manufacturers and among the top 100 suppliers in this sector. The company’s product portfolio comprises a broad range of roof and heating systems for every type of vehicle and all drive types as well as battery systems and charging solutions. Webasto is also exploring the market potential for the charging infrastructure sector in India as the Government of India drives electro-mobility forward. During the COVID times when the morale was down
and the world saw massive dips in the market, Webasto entered the market and soon the company won four project acquisitions with the four biggest OEMs in India. The company and Vikas both were completely focused on the demands being made by their clients. Moreover, Vikas learned how to work with his colleagues without being physically present due to the state of complete lockdown in the nation. Due to the COVID-enforced restrictions, the blue-collar, as well as the whitecollar workforce, could not achieve the desired efficiency due to restricted environment. He added that body language and non-verbal cues became hard to read as the world adapted to the transition of physical to virtual. Vikas was able to convince the management that India had the potential, especially in the COVID times, when the global markets were sinking faster than the Titanic. The employees of Webasto were left completely awe-struck when they thought there would be massive lay-offs but the company was hiring at almost 400% with the number being close to around 400 by 2022, which is a massive step-up from 100 employees in 2021 as the company was gearing for exponential growth.
The company witnessed a rampant phase under his leadership as Vikas led the company from a nascent stage to the valuation of approximately 380 Crore by 2022, having faith in his vision and on his team. The company built a plant of over 200,000 sq. ft. with the space for expansion in the future. Vikas and his team were courageously optimistic as he decided to involve an Indian supplier when the first production line was imported and the suppliers could not travel due to the travel restrictions enforced by the pandemic. He had to
seek the help of his foreign colleagues from Germany, Japan, Korea, and China to remotely install the line without the physical presence of the experts using Virtual Reality, Microsoft Teams, and Video Conferencing which was the first time something like this was being done in the company’s 120 year history. When asked about the biggest challenge he has faced, Vikas says, “I believe it is better to have a challenge than having no challenge, and with the increase in demands of our customers, I think it is a luxury challenge.”