Not long ago, BorgWarner was at a crossroads. It needed to decide how much it would invest in electrified powertrains as well as determine whether it wanted to compete in the autonomous car sector. The supplier decided that to secure its long-term future it would leave self-driving cars to others as it focused on providing propulsion solutions to everything that moves. BorgWarner CEO James Verrier told Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc why he believes the supplier "can’t lose."
What is your position with customers on the emissions debate?
Three to four years ago we decided to take a very agnostic position. We're just dedicated to propulsion. We work with the automakers and support them on combustion engines, hybrids or electric -- whatever they would like. This is driving a lot of growth for us because we've got high content per vehicle on all of those.
Do you continue to welcome the move to electrified powertrains?
We've embraced it. In the past, we had a lot of debate about what percentage of the world's cars would be pure electric by a given time. We concluded that we don't know, therefore, we decided to stop talking and put our efforts into building a portfolio of products. We've done that over the last three to four years. Whether pure EVs have a global share of 1 percent or 5 percent or 10 percent, we've got products. It is the same for hybrids.
What percentage of global sales will be pure EVs?
There's a lot more conviction that 3 percent to 5 percent of new vehicle sales will be pure EVs by 2023.
How do you feel about the move to autonomous cars and the rise of car-sharing and ride-sharing schemes?
When we put ourselves in a neutral position on propulsion a few years ago we made another decision: We'll let somebody else figure out all the details of autonomous driving and ride-sharing and connected cars. We don't really know how autonomous cars or ride-sharing will work. What we do know is that they're all vehicles and they're going to move from point A to point B and the only way you can do that is with a propulsion system. We're going to serve those needs in a completely balanced way with combustion, hybrid and electric. I think we can't lose.
Is the 48-volt mild hybrid a solution to the diesel decline in Europe and will BorgWarner gain from this?
We're on the road today with 48-volt e-boosting technology so 48-volt is here and I think it's going to continue to grow, particularly in Europe.
What market share is expected for these hybrids?
Our predictions show they will account for 60 percent of the hybrid market by 2027.
Will this reduce your turbo sales?
In the past, the question was whether you go with a hybrid architecture or a downsized turbocharger? That's no longer the case. It's both. We see turbo penetration rates on hybrids being the same as they are on naturally aspirated engines -- even a little higher.
More than 50 percent of all hybrids will have a turbocharger on them by 2027.
What is diesel's future in Europe?
We are in a mode where the diesel share is falling. I don’t think we've reached the bottom. We've gone from around 50 percent of overall new-car sales to the mid-40s. Where does it bottom out? Who really knows. It's probably in the 30s.
What's your biggest challenge?
Every night before I go to bed or every morning when I wake up, we've launched another product at BorgWarner. When you're doing that every day, you've just got to hope that every one of them has gone well -- and they generally do. The other challenge we face is making sure that we are at the leading edge of technology as this world moves forward in terms of advanced propulsion. We can never, ever take our eye off the ball and let somebody catch up to us or be better than us.