Geneva stands provide evidence of power shift

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Take a close look under the skin of all those electric vehicles and hybrids on display at the Geneva auto show this week and you'll understand why the industry is undergoing a dramatic internal power shift.

As batteries and electric motors replace engines, the once-dominant mechanical engineer is being told to adapt or step aside to make room for electrical, software and chemical engineers.

Delphi Chief Technologist Andrew Brown calls it a "classic transformation."

He says that many mechanical engineers at companies such as Delphi are being re-trained to "give them an appropriate knowledge around electrical and electronic engineering."

The transformation is happening at suppliers and automakers, where consultancy Frost & Sullivan says at least half of all engineers on staff are working on the powertrain.

Since most automakers want to keep powertrain development in-house, there is a huge need for electronic, software and battery specialists.

The mechanical engineers who strengthen their capabilities in these sought-after areas will do more than just save their jobs, they also will become much more attractive to competitors.

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