Delphi Automotive shook up the supplier world in May 2017 when it announced its intention to divide the company into two entities: Delphi Technologies, which would focus on powertrains, and Aptiv, which will concentrate on future technologies such as autonomous driving. Liam Butterworth, who led Delphi's powertrain unit, was named CEO of Delphi Technologies in December. He spoke with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Peter Sigal about the challenges and opportunities ahead for the company.
Delphi Technologies recently released its first quarterly report as a stand-alone company. How is the transition going?
We are in a great place as a business. The spinoff was executed seamlessly, and it was completed about four months ahead of schedule. We announced our 2017 results in February. Among the highlights: We had very strong revenue of $4.8 billion, 22 percent growth in China, and new business booking of $7.1 billion, which is about 10 percent higher than the prior year. About $2 billion of that was in electrification.
Is Delphi Technologies nimbler now as a stand-alone company? For example, if a trade war broke out or a significant regulatory shift occurred, are you more able to respond quickly?
Yes, both in terms of macro factors and also in how we operate globally with our customers. We pride ourselves on being a very nimble, flexible, responsive company. Now that we are a stand-alone company, everything that we do strategically and operationally is a reaction and response to what’s going on in the powertrain space. When we were part of a larger group there may have been some conflicting dynamics taking place because of different product lines within the overall Delphi. We also have a board of directors with a lot of experience in the powertrain space, so we get a tremendous amount of strategic discussion and dialogue regarding the company's strategy and where we want to take the company.
Was there a sense within Delphi that some of the resources that could have gone toward powertrain and propulsion weren’t going there, because you can’t fund everything all the time?
That wasn't happening, but that would have started to happen, and that was why we did the spinoff when we did. In 12 to 18 months' time if we were still part of Delphi, I think there would have been increasing capital allocation decisions that would have not been favorable for the powertrain part of the company.
How has the reception been in the financial markets?
When we first went out on the road last year, there was clearly a misconception around what Delphi powertrain was all about. The perception was that it was a legacy business of Delphi that is no longer of strategic interest, which is not at all the case. We had to educate the investment community about the business in terms of portfolio, technology and customer reach, and global spread across the powertrain universe. The reaction has been favorable, but our task now is to deliver on our commitments and perform as we have done in the past.
Is the portrayal of Delphi Technologies as "old tech" accurate?
It's not an accurate description of what we offer our customers. We offer solutions across every type of powertrain, whether it's internal combustion, full-electric, plug-in hybrid or 48 volt, because every automaker is approaching the CO2 challenge in different ways. And as automakers look at different powertrain mixes, software becomes important to control those systems. We have about 1,500 software engineers collaborating with customers to implement that technology.