Landi Renzo taking alternative fuel systems to the U.S.
AI interview Claudio Carnevale, CEO of Landi Renzo S.p.A
Jon Knox and Jeff Seisler
The US market is to benefit from the experience and knowledge of a leading manufacturer of LPG and CNG alternative automotive fuel systems and components, Landi Renzo.
In January 2010, the Italian firm registered its U.S. subsidiary – Landi Renzo USA Corporation. It already has subsidiaries in Europe, Asia and South America. “In the U.S. there is huge potential for the use of eco-friendly fuels, particularly natural gas, in the transportation segment. Landi Renzo will be playing a key role in the development of this sector and will take advantage of the many business opportunities it offers,” says Claudio Carnevale, CEO of Landi Renzo.
Landi Renzo says it controls more than 30% of the market for LPG and CNG alternative automotive fuel systems and components. The company was established in 1954 and during the last five years has registered a compound annual growth rate of more the 30%. It has become a global player through subsidiaries in ten countries covering all continents. The company currently provides components or complete systems to some of the largest OEMs around the world including Toyota, GM Group, Fiat Group, Renault, PSA, BMW, Mini, Suzuki, Tata, Mahindra&Mahindra. It also provided components to a number of Chinese car makers including Chery, Geely and JinbeiAshok Leyland and Brilliance Jinbei Automobile Company.
The Landi Renzo Quality System is in line with the most stringent automotive requirements and is 2001 ISO/TS 16949 certified. After an extensive certification process, more than 300 of the company’s workshops in Italy are now ISO 9001 certified. “Landi Renzo has already collaborated with some of the top car manufacturers on an international level. The complexity of electronics in modern vehicles results in the need for a stable and ongoing collaboration in order to design and build systems that can be perfectly integrated with the electronics and mechanics of current vehicles,” says the company. “Collaborations with these manufacturers are focused on addressing specific markets. Considering current development programs, CNG and LPG bi-fuel vehicles will increase dramatically in the future.”
In line with this policy, Landi Renzo created a division dedicated exclusively to products for car manufacturers. The company continues to invest in the division and one of its successful collaborations was with the FIAT Group (FIAT, Lancia, Alfa Romeo). A range of vehicles launched in 2009 was developed in strong collaboration between Landi Renzo and FIAT teams. The result was a portfolio of bi-fuel vehicles sellable on the FIAT network under FIAT warranty procedures.
Automotive Industries (AI) spoke to Carnevale, and asked him how Landi Renzo manages to continue to adapt its technology to fit with the changes in vehicle technology and emissions standards.
Carnevale: We have been reliable partners of major OEMs and we have offered some of the best aftermarket applications. This has been possible because of our commitment to R&D. We ensure that we are constantly aware of the innovations introduced to car models and even anticipate the possible demands of our customers. We continue to be the first choice of major car producers thanks to this technological responsiveness.
AI: Has the need to comply with regulations for on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems been a major challenge and cost for Landi Renzo?
Carnevale: We are able to manage co-design projects with major car makers. In general, we work on job and cost sharing with customers on OBD subjects in order to optimize the technical results and development cost.
AI: OEMs are increasingly bringing NGV models to the market which also impacts the retrofit business. What do you see as the future of the NGV retrofit business? Do you anticipate forming strategic relationships with OEMs or will you focus on the retrofit markets more exclusively?
Carnevale: We already have many partnerships with OEMs on CNG systems. In many countries, aftermarket remains a very important business option. Our strategic choice is to not favor one or the other market, but to be aware of all the available opportunities and any possible market developments. Obviously the retrofit market will enjoy technological benefits from the OEMs’ know-how.
AI: Do you see natural gas and LPGs having a similar future?
Carnevale: Today, LPG is a very popular option in Europe and in some Asian markets. Natural gas accounts for almost the whole South American market and is very successful in south-west Asia. The search for a progressive independence from oil sources will help CNG in the medium to long term.
AI: What are the current trends in the alternative fuels market and what do you think future trends in this segment will be? Where are your largest markets for conversion of NGV and LPG?
Carnevale: We're establishing our presence in both CNG and LPG markets. CNG is a clean option that doesn’t need to go through a transformation process to be used as transportation fuel. It is a medium to long term solution for countries that have CNG as a natural resource. LPG is a fast, reliable and affordable option which also dramatically reduces CO2 emissions.
AI: The Landi Renzo Group is moving into the highly competitive U.S. automotive sector for alternative fuel technology applications. What message would you like to convey to the North American automotive industry regarding this important strategic move?
Carnevale: Being the worldwide number one in our business has been possible thanks to over 50 years of experience in aftermarket conversions. We are suppliers of LPG and CNG systems to the major global automakers and we invest heavily in research and development. Our strength is that we know how to respond to customers’ needs. We believe that the American players will appreciate these skills.