Guido Dumarey is an outspoken Belgian engineer who in 1986 created Punch Group, a family-owned collection of businesses and investments in Europe with annual revenue of more than 500 million euros.
Much of that revenue comes from Punch Group's automotive arm, which supplies powertrain parts and engineering services.
Dumarey, who is CEO at Punch Group, specializes in buying what he calls “widows,” which are struggling businesses that the owners are willing to sell at deep discounts to save jobs. The widows are restructured and many of them are sold, often as part of an initial public offering.
Two key parts of Punch Group’s existing portfolio are discarded General Motors units in Europe: a transmission plant in Strasbourg, France, and a propulsion engineering center in Turin.
The Strasbourg plant, bought in 2012 and renamed Punch Powerglide, received 250 million euros in funding to expand its products and production.
Today the factory supplies six- and eight-speed automatic transmissions to BMW, ZF Friedrichshafen as well as Chinese, Russian and Indian automakers.
Punch Group says that restructuring saved 1,000 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs in Strasbourg.
After six years of trying, Punch in 2020 convinced GM to sell its Turin engineering complex, which had served as U.S. automaker’s global center of competence for diesels since 2005.
Purchasing the business, which was created by GM in 2005 after it separated from Fiat Auto, gave Punch Group access to more than 700 engineers and technicians who work at the Turin Polytechnic Citadel.
Dumarey plans to use all that knowledge and experience to transform diesels into CO2-free, hydrogen-fuel powerplants. He explained how in an interview with Automotive News Europe Associate Publisher and Editor Luca Ciferri.
Punch plans to begin producing hydrogen-fueled powerplant from diesel engines by 2024. What is the rationale?
It is relatively simple: Europe and China are mandating zero emissions for any type of transportation. Battery-powered vehicles are one option, but not the only option, particularly for heavy trucks and light commercial vehicles. The most relevant figure for those vehicles is the available payload. But to increase range you need more batteries, which adds weight and reduces the payload. Therefore, we think that converting diesel engines to burn hydrogen provides a very efficient way to offer CO2-free mobility that is beneficial both technically and socially.