Interview with James Verrier CEO of BorgWarner
“We are well positioned to take advantage of current trends”
James Verrier CEO BorgWarner James Verrier CEO BorgWarner

Consulte la versión en español de esta entrevista

AutoRevista.- When the worldwide automotive industry is living an unprecented moment in its history (connected cars, autonomous driving, developing of new markets), how is BorgWarner working to get a leadership position in innovation and sustainability? What about the professional profiles and training in this new scenario?

J.V.- Right now, we see four big trends playing out in the global auto industry: autonomous driving, shared cars & ridesharing, connected cars and efficiency. The good thing for BorgWarner is that we are connected to all of these trends. Even though they impact the industry in different ways, at the end of the day, they all require a propulsion system to get vehicles from point A to point B. With our portfolio of solutions for combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles, we are well positioned to take advantage of these trends.

In addition to hybrid and electric vehicle technologies, combustion propulsion systems still play a key role in meeting government regulations. As a result, there is an ongoing demand for innovation in this field as well. For instance, we support trends like engine downsizing with our turbocharger, variable cam timing and exhaust gas recirculation solutions to meet our customer needs, including better fuel economy, decreased emissions and improved performance.

As electric mobility is gaining more and more importance, we also offer numerous technologies for hybrid and electric vehicles. We are well prepared for e-mobility as we supply products for four out of the five main segments with regard to pure electric vehicles: electric motors, transmissions, power electronics and thermal management systems. Due to our broad portfolio of products for hybrid and electric vehicles, our business projections indicate that by 2023, 29 percent of all electric vehicles and 42 percent of all hybrid electric vehicles will feature BorgWarner content. This would correspond with an increase in revenue for those segments of more than 50 percent per year.

Along with the acquisition of REMY in 2015, we have been increasing the number of software and electrical engineers in the areas of power electronics, software and controls at BorgWarner. In addition, we constantly evaluate numerous target companies around the world to add complimentary technology to benefit our growing electrification portfolio. With all the changes in the automotive industry and new players entering the market, we also believe that collaboration is the key to success.

“We constantly evaluate numerous target companies around the world to add complimentary technology to benefit our growing electrification portfolio”

AR.- Obviously BorgWarner is offering a wide and high technology products range. How is working on its processes improving efficiency, costs...? Are you preparing your production plants for trends like Industry 4.0? What is the BorgWarner approach on this matter?

J.V.-We are always looking for ways to make our production plants more efficient and cost-effective. This includes not only expanding and modernizing our existing plants, as we did with our expansion of the Spain Technical Center at Vigo, but keeping our production as flexible as possible. For example, we recently added additional capabilities to our production of our plant in Kirchheimbolanden, Germany, to assemble our eBooster® electrically driven compressor.

AR.- What’s equally important to us, though, is our fundamental approach toward managing our production facilities and the company itself. It begins in the planning stages of a new facility, when we ask ourselves: What are we doing in terms of energy efficiency? Can we use solar power? Or recyclable water? Our goal is to create solutions that support a cleaner, more energy-efficient world, and we are pursuing that goal with our operations as well as with our products.

AR.- Your forecast indicates an important growth of hybrid vehicles in the next seven years. How is BorgWarner working on to give respond to this trend?

J.V.- We already offer a strong portfolio of technologies for hybrid and electric propulsion systems. Some products include the eBooster electrically driven compressor, a P2 clutch/motor module, electric all-wheel drive and the HVH electric motor series. Additionally, we have several technologies for hybrid and electric systems under development for commercial vehicle applications, such as the eTurboTM electrically assisted turbocharger and our organic rankine cycle system system for waste heat recovery.

“Our goal is to create solutions that support a cleaner, more energy-efficient world, and we are pursuing that goal with our operations as well as with our products”

AR.- BorgWarner's customer distribution around the world shows a third for Europe and other third for America? Nevertheless, we receive a lot of news about your growth in Asia (in China, Thailand and with customers like Hyundai or Geely). Do you expect an important growth in China and the whole Asia in a short-term?

J.V.- China is a very important market for us, especially since the government there has put great efforts toward promoting the development of New Energy Vehicles, along with highly efficient low-emission combustion engines. This means that we expect to see much higher growth rates for these systems over the next few years. Additionally, many of our new products are produced in China to support the fast-growing market. These currently include our electric motors, integrated electric drive module, eGearDrive® transmission, disconnect clutch, clutch and control modules for wet dual-clutch transmissions, stop-start accumulators and gasoline exhaust gas recirculation modules.

With our advanced technologies for all types of propulsion systems, we are well prepared to locally support our customers with their demands not only in Asia, but around the world. We will keep supporting our customers in developing more clean and efficient vehicles that meet market demands in terms of performance and driver comfort as well as more challenging emissions regulations. We are a global company that offers its customers local support worldwide, and we see opportunities and potential all around the world.

AR.- Is BorgWarner working on any project relative to hydrogen fuel cell?

J.V.- We are developing a charging system for fuel cell vehicles, known as Fuel Cell Air Supply (FCAS). The system can be a major contribution for enabling future zero emission propulsion concepts. The FCAS features innovative technologies like a high-speed electrical motor, air foil bearings and a turbine driven by the exhaust gases of the fuel cell engineered to fulfill the specific requirements of the fuel cell.

“The Spain Technical Center has already generated 49 patents for innovative solutions in the field of emissions”

AR.- Last November BorgWarner expands its R&D Center in Spain. How you describe the role of BorgWarner Spanish base into the company's strategy?

J.V.- The Vigo plant is a valuable part of our worldwide network of facilities. The Spain Technical Center is one of 24 technical centers that specialize in developing a broad portfolio of different technologies. Our team in Vigo, specifically, is working on the development of exhaust gas cooling and recirculation systems, heat transfer technologies and exhaust heat recovery solutions for combustion and hybrid vehicles. As an important part of our development network, this team has already generated 49 patents for innovative solutions in the field of emissions. The R&D center is equipped with new testing equipment and offers space for 85 employees to meet the demand posed by the increasing European passenger car registrations and support our customer needs with leading emissions technologies.

AR.- Do you think the possible new economic policy of the new US Administration could have some effects in BorgWarner activities in America?

“We will wait to see a clearer picture of the new U.S. administration’s policies”

J.V.- We will wait to see a clearer picture of the new U.S. administration’s policies. The auto industry has a long history of responding and working with administrations with varying points of view, and we will continue to work with our legislators.

There will always be changes in policy priorities. BorgWarner has been focused on providing clean and efficient technologies for more than two decades, and we continue to take a long-term, global approach to our technology pipeline. Our goal is to meet our customer needs, and we believe better fuel economy and decreased emissions will remain a priority for them. The industry has made tremendous progress on clean and efficient vehicles and, while U.S. regulatory pressure may ease, we believe that momentum will continue.

With more than 70 percent of our business outside of the U.S., we take a global view toward helping our customers meet the varying regulations and consumer demand in all regions of the world. We will continue to support those needs with a full spectrum of propulsion systems – combustion, hybrid and electric – designed to provide the best solutions for each market, vehicle platform and customer.

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