In a press conference from Germany Friday morning, MAHLE officials said the company will focus even more strongly on its strategic future priorities and detailed the company’s direction on the development of battery and powertrain technologies.
Commenting on the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Jörg Stratmann, chairman of the MAHLE Management Board and CEO, said the company believes based on current data that economic recovery globally is likely at least three years away. “Although there is currently evidence of a slight easing in the markets, we expect that it will be several years before we see the vehicle markets return to pre-crisis levels.”
In positioning itself for the future of the powertrain, Stratmann said the company already is in a strong position. “MAHLE is in a very strong position. We supply the technologies for sustainable mobility. As far as alternative drives are concerned, MAHLE is focusing on hydrogen and battery technologies,” he said.
As far as climate considerations, “MAHLE is committed to the climate targets agreed in Paris,” Stratmann said. “We must tackle the climate targets using effective technologies and all the means available to us. We have to move away from the focus on exhaust fumes and toward an approach that is open to all technologies and takes account of all the CO2 released over a vehicle’s life cycle.
Stratmann said change in powertrain technologies is driven primarily by political objectives. “The current one-dimensional debate focused on a single drive is not productive,” he said. “We want a dialogue that has a basis in technology… There will not — and cannot — be one single powertrain of the future. Market conditions, vehicle classes, and driving profiles are too diverse for this to be the outcome. We have to pull out all the stops: electrification, the development of the fuel cell, and the use of hydrogen and alternative fuels in the intelligently electrified combustion engine.”
The Stuttgart-based company will continue current research and development investments and forge new ones.
MAHLE recently established a new competence center for mechatronics in Kornwestheim, near Stuttgart, from where all activities of the company globally in mechatronics will be coordinated.
(According to Michigan Tech, Mechatronics is, “a multidisciplinary field that combines several types of engineering — electrical, computer, and mechanical — and refers to the skill sets needed in the contemporary, advanced automated manufacturing industry. At the intersection of mechanics, electronics, and computing, mechatronics specialists create simpler, smarter systems. Mechatronics is an essential foundation for the expected growth in automation and manufacturing.”)
In December, the company expects to finish building an e-mobility development center in Suzhou, China, where it will pool its expertise in mechatronics, thermal management and fluid management at the site and work on solutions specifically for the Chinese market, the company said.
Dr. Martin Berger, Vice President MAHLE Corporate Research and Advanced Engineering, provided an overview of the company’s tech strategy.
With the company’s dual strategy, “we are continuing to optimize the combustion engine and simultaneously advancing all alternative drives,” Berger said. “Combustion engines that run on renewable fuels need to become part of the drive mix if we want to achieve the ambitious climate targets.”
The combustion engine has an important role to play in the drive mix of the future, Berger said. “Clean, intelligently electrified, and driven by alternative fuels such as regeneratively produced hydrogen, it will contribute to achieving the climate targets.”
The company also is expanding its portfolio in the field of mechatronics, including the MAHLE magnet-free high-voltage motor, Berger said. It’s “an example of the way we simultaneously keep an eye on efficiency, packaging, and resources.”
“We are pressing ahead with our activities relating to alternative drive systems and focusing on battery and hydrogen technology,” Berger said. “With immersion cooling and our advanced type IV hydrogen tank, we are taking important steps that will help these technologies achieve further market penetration.”
MAHLE is developing methods to keep electric vehicle batteries cooler so they can be charged faster to get people back on the road. Long charging cycles can be a hindrance to electric vehicle use.
“We are exploring a broad field and continuously expanding our knowledge and our portfolio in order to tackle the challenges of private transport piece by piece,” Berger said. “What is important… is that we must face the complexity of selecting the best solution for each application—without technological limitations.”
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