In 2021, the Liebherr Group posted an overall increase of € 1,298 million or 12.6 %.From the second quarter in 2021, to some extent, it was extremely difficult to procure various raw materials, components and electronic parts. This resulted in price increases and bottlenecks in the global supply chains. Nevertheless, Liebherr recorded a significant increase in sales revenues compared with the previous year. The group grew in eleven of its 13 product segments and in almost all of its sales regions.
Revenues in the earthmoving, material handling technology, deep foundation machines, mobile and crawler cranes, tower cranes, concrete technology and mining product segments were 17 % higher than in the previous year. In the other product segments, including maritime cranes, aerospace and transportation systems, gear technology and automation systems, a 3.9 % increase was achieved compared with the previous year.
Sales increased in the European Union, which has traditionally been the Group’s strongest sales region. Outside the EU, there was a marked rise in sales in the United Kingdom. Positive development was also seen in North America, as well as Central America and South America, where strong growth came especially from Brazil. The group faced declines in Africa, as well as in the Near and Middle East, whereas the financial year in Asia and Oceania ended with a moderate rise.
Traditionally high investments in research and development
Liebherr invested € 559 million in research and development last year. Alternative drive technologies continue to be a focal point of their research projects. In 2021, it worked, for example, on hydrogen-powered combustion engines and their injection technologies, as well as electric drives. For instance, Liebherr expanded its portfolio of construction machines with electric drives with two all-electric truck mixers on five-axle chassis frames, the two electric crawler excavators R 976-E and R 980 SME-E and the battery-powered crawler cranes LR 1160.1 unplugged and LR 1130.1 unplugged both with zero local emissions.
The start of the development phase of the first all-electric offshore crane marked the launch of the electrification of the product portfolio in this area. Furthermore, Liebherr prepared various product lines for the use of hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVO) as a fuel. The Ehingen and Kirchdorf an der Iller sites (both in Germany) are now already fuelling all machines with the climate-neutral fuel ex works as standard.
Investments in production, sales and service
To further expand its presence in the Asian market and meet the high demand from the wind and construction industries, the Group began construction of a new components plant in China: Liebherr Components (Dalian) Co., Ltd. will produce slewing bearings, gearboxes and hydraulic cylinders at the Dalian site, starting at the end of 2022. Last year also saw the construction of a new assembly line for gearboxes in India. In addition, a largescale expansion was approved for the plant in Ehingen (Germany). Step-by-step, investments will be made in the expansion until 2030 in order to significantly increase its production capacity and meet the rising demand for mobile and crawler cranes.
Outlook for 2022
The Liebherr Group has started 2022 with a very good order situation. However, the negative effects due to the war in Ukraine can already be seen. Liebherr is monitoring and assessing the effects of steep price increases for many goods and services, shortages of certain raw materials and the lack of skilled workers, as well as bottlenecks in different supply chains. It is also unclear how fiscal and monetary policy measures will ultimately affect the group. Despite the difficult conditions, Liebherr is cautiously optimistic about the rest of the year.