VAN BUREN TWP., Mich., July 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Ricardo Inc. -- one of the world's foremost independent automotive engineering consulting companies -- has acquired the IFT Group, an automotive engineering group based in the southern German automotive cluster cornered by Stuttgart, Munich and Ingolstadt. The IFT companies provide engine systems expertise -- particularly in the area of high performance and niche exhaust systems, prototyping, small series production and testing services covering vehicle, engines and related systems -- serving a strong established automotive customer base. The acquisition significantly increases Ricardo's presence in Europe's leading automotive market, providing the necessary infrastructure, complementary technology and critical mass to deliver full powertrain and vehicle integration programs from a local German base and team. It also supports Ricardo's worldwide technology and capabilities in future exhaust systems. The German market for automotive engineering consultancy is perhaps the most technically demanding in Europe, driven by the needs of major vehicle companies including DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Audi, Porsche, VW, Opel, Fiat-GM Powertrain and Ford of Europe. The acquisition provides a delivery base on the "doorstep" of the southern German premium automotive manufacturers and many of their key Tier 1 suppliers including Bosch. In addition the northern Italian car industry is also readily accessible from this base. The IFT companies employ approximately 270 people, operating from its headquarters in Schwabisch Gmund, as well as from several customer sites and a small design office in Budapest. With the addition of the existing Ricardo team already based in Germany, Ricardo will have approximately 20 percent of its staff operating within this strategic region following the acquisition. "The acquisition of IFT is in line with our strategy to significantly increase our presence and capability in Germany, the largest automotive market in Europe," said Rodney Westhead, Ricardo's chief executive. "This is an important area of future growth for Ricardo and this acquisition significantly increases our ability to meet the requirements of our German customers and also brings a new complementary technology in exhaust systems. This acquisition follows our recent developments in strategic consulting, including our recent acquisitions of Gemini and Tarragon, which together add to our growing international activities." With its North American headquarters in Van Buren Twp., Mich., Ricardo has been a world-leading vehicle system and powertrain technology provider for automotive manufacturers, heavy-duty manufacturers and tier one suppliers since 1917. The company provides expertise ranging from designing and developing engines, transmissions and drivelines, to integrating vehicle systems and creating software solutions, to developing gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell technology. Ricardo employs approximately 1,750 people worldwide -- 85 percent of whom are highly qualified multi-disciplined professional engineers and technicians -- at its technical centers in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Czech Republic. The company recently increased its North American presence by expanding its Detroit Technology Campus in Van Buren Twp. A public company based in the U.K., Ricardo plc posted sales of $220 million in fiscal year 2002 and is a part of the FTSE techMark 100 index -- a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.
SOURCE Ricardo Inc.