UFI, committed to research, innovation and better environment over 20 years
Italian auto filter supplier UFI Filters Group plans to strengthen its position in the Chinese market with new high-quality products and improved research and development capabilities.
Just after China opened its doors to foreign investment 40 years ago, Giorgio Girondi, founder of UFI, came to the country to explore this new market. In 1983 he got the contract for a plant realization with B.T.A.F; this was the very first experience which allowed the company to distribute its know-how, licenses and machinery and was followed by other 7 turnkey plants in different areas of China. Since then, the local auto industry has undergone tremendous changes and UFI has grown along with it by setting up their first WFOE in 1996 (Sofima Shanghai).
“Reform and opening-up has been positive for local companies but also for foreign ones like ours, who believe in and invest in this country,” said Rinaldo Facchini, CEO of UFI, during an interview with Shanghai Daily, “The reforms keep on coming and we expect them to give UFI the support needed to compete in an ever-developing market.”
UFI works with almost all car manufacturers not only in China but worldwide. The company has 80 clients among Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), all the major automotive brands in China. With China now the biggest auto market in the world, the market generates 50 percent of UFI revenues and is home to around half of the company’s personnel.
The China International Import Expo is a great initiative that will give huge visibility to all companies investing heavily in China. UFI strongly believes in China and has recently invested over 100 million euros (US$114 million) here and intends to double the investment over the next five years. During the CIIE, UFI will look for new partners or cooperation arrangements that can widen the range of products available to the Chinese market.
“UFI came to China early knowing that, with over 1 billion of people, the country would sooner or later become one of the world’s most important automotive markets. We chose Shanghai as our Chinese base and opened our first factory in Qingpu District in 1996. We decided on Shanghai because since the 19th century the city has had a reputation as one of the most important commercial cities in the East,” said Girondi.
Latest investments included UFI’s splendid new Asia-Pacific headquarters in Hongqiao, which opened in May this year. A new plant in Chongqing is scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year. The Chongqing plant will produce all kinds of filters to meet the rising demands of the market. Chongqing will also export a number of products to the Russian and European markets.
UFI’s Research & Development capabilities continue to go from strength to strength. The company established a Research & Development center in 2000 in Shanghai and it currently employs over 80 people. In the past few years, the center has been working on products that reduce emissions and preserve the environment.
The team has developed some important technology for new-energy vehicles, with key priorities on emission reduction and performance improvement.
Luca Biagini, Asia Pacific COO, described a new Excellence & Innovation center in Shanghai for development of Thermal Management systems that will soon employ another 20 technicians and engineers. The center will become UFI’s leading center for the new-energy vehicle market and new-energy vehicle OEMs.
“This move is the creation of an entirely new specialized group to study new-energy vehicles in Shanghai. The evolution of technology related to newenergy vehicles in China is the best in the world,” Luca Biagini added.
UFI believes that Shanghai is the kind of city where development momentum never drops, with a full range of technology, talent, know-how, universities and skills. The city is always accepting new ideas and trends and open to those willing to work with it.
“Shanghai is developing
and introducing more policies for the fiscal, innovation and import-export markets, which will allow UFI to be even more competitive and contribute to the development of the Chinese and Shanghai economies,” Rinaldo Facchini added.
Founded in 1971, UFI is a global leader in filtration technology and in thermal management. It serves a wide range of sectors — from automotive, aerospace and marine to specialized industrial and customized hydraulic applications. Renowned for its innovation, UFI products and know-how are to be found in all kinds of vehicles — from Ferrari and other top F1 teams, to the European ExoMars spacecraft. Seven out of ten teams in F1 use UFI Filters and at every GP over 100 of UFI’s products are used during the race.
UFI supplies the full range of air, oil, fuel, cabin, hydraulic and coolant filters as well as thermal management systems to the automotive sector, meeting the needs of nearly all car brands and motorcycles as well as commercial, heavy duty and agricultural vehicles. In the Original Equipment market, UFI is a leading filtration provider.
One of the first Italian companies to identify growth opportunities in the Far East, today UFI has 14 production sites and employs over 4,000 people in 16 countries. It employs 120 specialized technicians in its Innovation and Research Centers and holds 167 patents. UFI achieved double digit sales growth rates (CAGR) from 2009 to 2017. As a research-driven company, it reinvests over 5 percent of its revenues in research & development.
UFI Filters Group entered the Chinese market in 1983 providing turnkey plants to other companies. In 1996 established its own wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE): Sofima Shanghai. Twenty years later it has 5 plants, 4 of which in Shanghai and 1 in Changchun covering over 100,000 square meters of factory floor, over 2,200 employees and a daily production of about 154,000 filters. The 6th plant is due to open in the first quarter of 2019, in Chongqing.
UFI is a global leader in filtration technology and in thermal management. It serves a wide range of sectors – from automotive, aerospace and marine to specialized industrial and customized hydraulic applications.
Rinaldo Facchini, CEO of UFI