An industry transformation has occurred in the 10 years since the economic crash of 2008, when automakers and suppliers alike were facing layoffs, bankruptcies and an unclear future.
The North American auto industry is now heavily invested in more environmentally conscious products, lower-emission vehicles, components made of lighter-weight materials, vehicle systems that siphon off less engine power, and a widespread adoption of electric technologies and more efficient factory processes.
From the anguish and ashes of 2008 arose a decade of the greening of the auto industry.
At the moment, political uncertainties are hovering over the industry effort. The Trump administration has taken steps to ease off the drive, offering lower fuel-efficiency regulatory targets that could influence technology strategies in the years ahead. But in interviews with suppliers across the industry over the past two years, it is apparent that companies are determined to keep up their push to greener vehicles.
"Making products with increased fuel efficiency or lower emissions is just good business," says BorgWarner spokeswoman Kathy Graham. "Eight or 10 years ago, fuel economy came at about 25th on the list of customer needs and wants. Since the recession, customers are asking for better fuel efficiency and lower emissions. The future is in being sustainable."
BorgWarner moved into numerous new green technologies after the recession. Its "cam torque actuated" variable cam timing system, which launched in the Subaru Forester in 2011, helped Subaru meet U.S. super ultra low emissions vehicle standards. In 2016, BorgWarner invested in its plant in Water Valley, Miss., to produce its Eco-Launch hydraulic accumulator and solenoid valves, which enabled fast and smooth engine restarts for Cadillac's new fuel-saving stop-start engine systems.