Suppliers' responsibilities in vehicle development are growing. Peter Gutz-mer, chief technology officer at Schaeffler AG, aims to develop valuable products in a wider range of functions. Gutzmer, 59, spoke with Automobilwoche Staff Reporter Klaus-Dieter Floerecke. Automobilwoche is a sibling publication of Automotive News. The interview was conducted in German and translated into English.
Q: What is suppliers' role in improving engine technology?
A: In general, there is more work in development networks. This has resulted in a sharp increase in the suppliers' share of the development of new engine lines. The vehicle manufacturers continue to provide adaptations in their vehicle platforms and in the overall systems. But as a whole, suppliers must provide more development expertise and take over greater development responsibility. This trend will continue as a result of the growing complexity.
Can you give an example?
An example is our fully variable electrohydraulic UniAir valve control. We supply this system to Fiat-Chrysler. But this only works if we network intensively very early on with the customer, starting during the specification phase, clarifying who will cover particular areas and who will take over particular work packages.
Is engine downsizing still important?
Yes. If you look at the internal combustion engine, three- and four-cylinder engines will determine the future, combined with other systems such as electrification. The two-cylinder engines will likely remain a niche application with a role in range extenders. For internal combustion engines, we see further increases in performance and torque. This will primarily be achieved with turbochargers or complementary charging systems.