Tomorrow’s vehicles will have at least one thing in common with those of today – they will need a propulsion system, even if the steering wheel and other controls disappear. What they may well not have in common is the type of propulsion system. Internal combustion engines will still be with us for some time to come as much of the world simply does not have the infrastructure to support electrification of the country’s entire fleet. One of the global leaders in the provision of propulsion systems is BorgWarner, which in February 2019 was named one of Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable U.S.
Companies. BorgWarner is one of a handful few automotive companies to receive the honor, according to Barron’s. “Decades ago BorgWarner made the commitment to do our part in preserving our natural resources, and today we continue to make great strides in creating and maintaining safe, clean environments for our employees, customers and stakeholders,” says BorgWarner president and chief executive officer Frédéric Lissalde. As BorgWarner recognizes in its 2018-2019 Sustainability Report, companies survive and grow because their business is sustainable, as well as their business practices.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Lissalde how well the company is prepared for the electrification of powertrains. Lissalde: We have been identifying market needs for years in order to deliver the right solutions at the right time, resulting in a very broad portfolio of solutions for electric vehicles. Therefore, we are well prepared to meet the challenges that come with this emerging trend. BorgWarner supplies four out of five key technologies for electric vehicles – electric motors, transmissions, power electronics and thermal management – thus supporting our customers with a broad range of products and our vast expertise.
This positions us a reliable partner for vehicle manufacturers all around the world. Continuous research work and the optimization of existing technologies allow us to provide systems that work as efficiently as possible. An example is our 2018 PACE Award-winning S-wind wire forming technology which enables the mass production of high-voltage electric motors from 48V up to 350V. This new manufacturing process offers advantages such as space-saving design and high-power density for high-voltage electric and hybrid vehicles. Additionally, we provide one of the broadest 48V portfolios in the industry as a crucial step towards the electrification of vehicles. This includes technologies such as our motor generator with integrated electronics (MGI), which provides higher system efficiency and improved energy recovery capability to meet increasing power demands. With our product portfolio we support the move towards a cleaner and more energy-efficient world.
AI: How is BorgWarner positioned globally regarding electrification? Lissalde: BorgWarner already has a broad product portfolio suitable for electrified vehicle in all markets. What also puts us in a strong position is that we are able to support our global customers at local level with our strong global footprint of technical centers and manufacturing facilities. Engaging with leading engineers across our expansive customer base also gives us tremendous insight into future trends, so we can always be investing in the right technologies for the future.
AI: What do you think the impact of electrification will have – both on your business as well as the industry as a whole? Lissalde: Regarding the future of the automotive industry, one thing is clear: there will always be a need for propulsion systems. Every vehicle, regardless of the propulsion type, will have to move from point A to point B. We have evolved our company to become balanced across combustion, hybrid and electric propulsion architectures. As we supply technology solutions for all types of powertrains, we see the emerging trend of electrification as an opportunity to strengthen our business. We offer the whole range of products and already have extensive know-how regarding electrification, as we have been developing many innovative solutions to serve this trend. In addition to individual components we support our customers with complete modules. An example is our fully integrated drive module (iDM), which combines advanced transmission and electric motor technologies as well as specially developed power electronics in a single module for simple installation, reduced size, weight and cost. We furthermore drive electrification with innovations like our P2 module, which allows for pure electric driving and several hybrid features, such as stop/start and regenerative braking. This cost-effective technology solution can easily be implemented into existing drivetrains and reduces CO2 emissions significantly. As you can see, we are well positioned regarding future developments on the market and are ready to deliver highly efficient propulsion solutions that are cleaner than ever and thus protect the environment and improve the world that we live in.
AI: What job opportunities do you expect electrification generate? Lissalde: Electrification is as much of a challenge as it is an opportunity for the automotive industry. This trend is still in its beginning stages and offers new and different possibilities. As automakers are currently searching for multiple ways to get their engines more clean, efficient and powerful, we believe that research and development departments will grow. We expect a compound annual growth rate of 41 % for hybrid vehicles and of 36 % for electric vehicles from 2017 to 2023. BorgWarner will keep on broadening its portfolio for electrified vehicles, and this is likely to create new job opportunities.
“Regarding the future of the automotive industry, one thing is clear: there will always be a need for propulsion systems.”
AI: After taking over in August 2018 how have you tweaked BorgWarner’s corporate strategy for powertrains? Lissalde: I have been with BorgWarner for more than 19 years, and a member of our strategy board since 2011. Therefore, I was involved in establishing our current corporate strategy. Regarding the future, my focus will be to accelerate the execution of this strategy to be a leader in combustion, hybrid and electric propulsion systems.
AI: How are environmental legislations across the developed world impacting drivetrain technology? Lissalde: Changes in regulations are driving a change in the mix of combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles. More stringent regulations drive more electrification. It is very difficult to predict exactly how the markets will evolve. There is uncertainty in the regulations, the consumer acceptance and the timing and volume by region of different propulsion technologies. The beauty of our strategy is that we are there to support our customers, the end consumers and the governments with whatever mix of technologies they need. This will allow us to grow regardless of how the markets evolve.
AI: What are some of the new powertrain and transmission technologies BorgWarner is likely to unveil soon? Lissalde: In addition to the iDM, we are winning a number of contracts for our high-voltage heaters. Used as a cabin heater they create a comfortable interior using core temperature sensing abilities and dual-zone heating. They also increase functionality by quickly defrosting windows without generating excess waste heat. Similarly efficient, the fast response time of our compact and lightweight battery heater enables optimal cabin and battery temperature management. BorgWarner’s technology enhances the performance of the battery by keeping its operating temperature within an optimal range and providing a consistent temperature distribution inside the battery pack and its cells. To see Frédéric Lissalde talking about BorgWarner’s future strategies please use the QR code.