The automotive arm of British engineering firm GKN is in an enviable position. Strong global demand for SUVs is boosting sales of GKN Driveline's all-wheel-drive systems. In addition, the supplier's emergent eDrive business unit provides a new generation of vehicles such as the Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid with its so-called eAxle, a lightweight and compact system that provides Volvo's flagship SUV with both electric-drive efficiency and all-wheel-drive capability. To top it all, GKN Driveline CEO Phil Swash expects the company's dominant constant velocity joint business will continue to thrive. Swash discussed that and more with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs.
How is your year going?
In the first half we saw trading profit rise more than 9 percent to 164 million pounds. The second half appears strong on sales, except for regions we know about, such as Brazil.
Where does GKN rank in the awd drive market?
If you exclude companies that do it themselves, such as Toyota, Audi and VW, GKN is the leader.
What is driving your awd sales?
The growth of SUVs everywhere, particularly in Europe.
Fiat Chrysler is a big customer for your Disconnect awd system that disengages drive to the rear axle when it’s not needed to help improve fuel economy. The Jeep Compass compact SUV has just been launched in Brazil for global markets. Are you a supplier?
Yes. It builds on the great success we have had with the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X. It’s similar technology to what is in the Range Rover Evoque and Ford Focus RS. You’ll see this on a number of major customer platforms in the next few years.
For General Motors we're looking at a significant number of platforms for Disconnect and Twinster [torque vectoring], the Cadillac XT5 and Buick Enclave [which is sold as the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka in Europe] for example. In China we're supplying Disconnect to SAIC for use in MG and Roewe SUVs.