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Interview Steve Polakowski, President of ESG Automotive & Bill Mattingly, VP Business Development

ESG Automotive is wholly owned by the German ESG Group, and has worked with most of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers. The company’s expertise lies in the development, integration, validation and diagnosis of automotive electronic systems. The company also provides consultancy services ranging from technology to process support and methods. Some of the company’s clients are Alpine, Audi, BMW, Bosch, Chrysler, Daimler, Fisker, Jaguar, General Motors, Visteon and Volkswagen. The company is a member of both the AUTOSAR and Car2Car consortia. Independent process and technology consulting is one of ESG’s key areas of expertise. Technology transfer between markets is a differentiable basis for an important contribution to its customers’ value creation.

ESG Automotive Inc, part of the ESG Group, has increased its position in the US market by acquiring Automotive System Integrators LLC or ASI which is a specialist in electrical and electronic systems engineering. ASI has been a supplier of electrical systems engineering to nearly all major OEMs and suppliers and has an extensive presence in the North American market. With the acquisition of ASI, ESG is establishing a strategic basis for the accelerated growth and execution of its plan for international expansion in the automotive sector.

In the automotive industry, nearly 70 per cent of all innovations are based on integrated electronics and associated software, which makes ESG Automotive a valuable partner to its clients. “We fulfill this role by being directly included in the process of creating the product with the customer and, on the other hand, we are an independent developer and integrator of functions for vehicle derivatives. We offer hardware and software functions which are independent of the domain concerned and generate significant added value for our customers due to their higher level of innovation and improved quality. ESG can also make use of its many years of experience in the implementation of human-machine interfaces, driver assistance systems, sensors and actuators in the area of aerospace technology,” says ESG Automotive. 

ESG Automotive will be taking part in Convergence 2010, which is being held later this year from October 18th – 20th at Cobo Center in Detroit, USA. The theme for this year’s Convergence show is ‘Partnerships for Driving Smart Mobility’. On the last day of the show, ESG Automotive will be sponsoring the Carmakers Panel – this panel will comprise the top electrical engineers from the world’s major carmakers. The panel will discuss the carmaker’s progress towards electrification and their need from suppliers of electrical and electronics parts, services, software and tools.

Automotive Industries spoke to Steve Polakowski, President of ESG Automotive and Bill Mattingly, VP of Business Development.

AI: You will introduce the carmakers panel at Convergence this year? The panel plans to discuss the electrification of vehicles. What is your opinion?

SP: The degree of electrification in the car industry will increase steadily over the coming years. More and more vehicles will be powered partly or fully by electricity in the future. Despite the fact that there are still many problems to solve for e-mobility, I am absolutely sure the electrification of vehicles is inevitable for two reasons: limited natural resources and increased traffic.

ESG considers EV and PHEV development services as one of its strategic fields. We invest heavily in the development of eco-friendly solutions to the benefit of our customers and offer a wide range of services concerning e-mobility. We support our customers in the areas of e-drive systems, energy management, security, infrastructure, high-voltage charging concepts, and telematics. We also integrate complete EE system architectures and develop electrical power supply system and safety concepts for both low-and high-voltage vehicles.

The electrical mobility caused serious changes to the vehicles and vehicle concepts, but also to the infrastructure, which establishes a new interface between the automotive industry and energy suppliers. This interface is not only technically but organizationally and politically influenced.

AI: What are some of the other topics you expect the Carmakers Speak Panel to highlight?

BM: I expect a very interesting discussion on further developments in the electrification of vehicles. We will surely learn more about where the OEM’s are heading and what the new trends are. I am also curious to know, how much American, French, German and Japanese carmakers might differ in their opinion about the major trends. Standards are always an interesting subject with specific focus, I expect, on Autosar and the ISO 26262 on functional safety.

AI: Tell us about ESG’s latest innovation project regarding e-mobility?

BM: One of our new development projects is under the motto of E-mobility without Limitations and deals with an innovative CHP (Combined Heat and Power) concept for electric vehicles with fuel cells. ESG focuses in this project on system integration and the design of a smart operating strategy. We are engaged in this project for two reasons; one clearly is to demonstrate our expertise in the systems design integration the other is to deal with future forms of mobile or on board power suppliers. The fuel cell as a range extender supplies power and heat simultaneously. Our experience with the latest e-mobility projects clearly shows that both kinds of energy are essential for electrical vehicles. Currently, we are also working on a web-based solution for fleet management of field trials in the area of e vehicles. Therefore a solar-powered data logger combined with a GSM radio module for communication and with a GPS module for localization is under development. A tracking software called SuCES Telematics which has been designed at ESG can evaluate various desired data to support and monitor the vehicle fleet. ESG has identified different users for such a system: drivers, service and operators of the field trials. For example, the driver will be sent via the telematics system, a message to his phone about the stage of charge of his vehicle.
Another system we are currently looking at is a telematic data logger system for fleet management.

AI: I understood that the acquisition of ASI adds even more e vehicle experience to ESG history?

SP: ESG and ASI have one important focus in common, complex electronic systems. So when it comes to the electrification of cars, we as ESG are the perfect partner for technical issues that occur with the electrification in the context of e-mobility.

Both companies can already look back on several experiences with EVs and PHEVs.

Just to mention one example. In 2006, Fisker a California-based automobile manufacturer began development of a zero-emission electric vehicle and chose ESG as part of the E/E team, including the important component of the electric drive. In cooperation with the Controls Execution Team, ESG specified and built suitable system architecture for a plug-in hybrid. ASI was also part of this project. So we have already worked together even before the acquisition.

AI: What do you regard as the key trends in the electronic automobile world?

SP: Definitely the interaction among cars will play an important role in the future. Several auto manufacturers are currently carrying out research and development in the area of Car2Car communications. One of the first manufacturers in this field, General Motors – in collaboration with partners – has developed a working demo system.
Essential in the development of the system was the question of how information from the Car2Car system can be made accessible to the drivers. All the relevant data should be made available to the drivers quickly and clearly, without overwhelming them or distracting them from the road. GM passed this complex question on to ESG.
Together with psychologists and thorough countless tests, methods of how the information can be made available to satisfy the requirements were considered and tested.
Model-based development will be another important trend in the world of embedded systems. A model-based approach for the development of functions makes it possible to detect errors in the specification at an early stage in the development process. It also has potential for cost reduction through the evolutionary improvement of models and automated code generation.

We believe the combination of model-based development with automated testing provides a powerful and efficient platform for functional development. This is essential to save costs, ensure functional safety and accelerate development.

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