Plotting Valeo’s Route de la Technologie

Valeo is an industry leader in technologies essential to vehicle electrification and connected/automated driving. The French Tier 1 pioneered 48V mild-hybrid systems and is a major producer of e-hardware and software including belt-starter generators, power electronics, electric superchargers and traction motors. Valeo recently entered a collaboration with Dana Inc. to develop and supply electrified AWD systems featuring 48-V hybrid power. The first of these is scheduled to launch in volume in early 2020 with a major European OEM.

One of the architects of Valeo Group’s steady evolution as a mobility-tech supplier is Guillaume Devauchelle, vice president of Innovation & Scientific Development. He joined Valeo in 2000 after the acquisition of Italy-based wiring harness maker Sylea where he served as VP of R&D. Monsieur Devauchelle recently spoke by phone with editor-in-chief Lindsay Brooke.

What is the status of Valeo’s 48-V hybrid system development? And do you see it as a significant profit center going forward?

Forty-eight volt is very important for us and we already have orders booked not only for Europe but also for China. We see different applications – to meet CO2 emission regulations, for premium and even city cars and to meet market demand for other applications that are on the way.

Do you expect one [driveline] position of the 48-V system in the vehicle – P1 or P2 – to become dominant?

There is no standard fit! We have engineered the systems to fit an incredible diversity of vehicle fits and segmentations. Even the P4 location on the rear axle, for light 4x4s, we’ve demonstrated. The OEMs have their own philosophies in how they will fit the hybrid systems in order to be compliant with the pollution regulations that are getting more and more stringent. It’s not easy to forecast volumes, by segment, but overall for Valeo that’s not really an issue. We have created standard 48-volt “bricks” that can accommodate P1, P2, etc.

48-V and other means of hybridization will extend the life of the ICE for perhaps decades, it appears. Do you agree?

Yes, for sure. Because for many reasons, not everything is prepared for purely electric vehicles. Range, the availability of raw materials, access to charging stations – those issues will not be solved in five years. They may change more quickly in large cities with regulations that are maybe more charging-agnostic. But we believe that with 48-volt hybrids you get 80 percent of the performance of a battery-powered vehicle at a fraction of the total cost. The scope of 48-volt is that it creates an ‘affordable EV’ in a hybrid.

One of your favorite topics is future mobility and how to ‘scale’ it. What is Valeo’s role in this?

It requires a broad portfolio and a complete set of solutions, which we are preparing. We believe one size will not fit all for OEMs and for new players. We are proposing new solutions, such as leading the creation of new standards for automatic parking within the ISO working group. We are prepared to cope with the variety of electronics in the car and in the parking lot. We are testing a lot of different applications in Barcelona. We are taking a step-by-step approach, because the business model for this is not easy to write at the beginning.

If you could leap ahead to 2030, what do you think the sensing suite of a typical midsize crossover SUV will include?

Well, I’m not sure the SUV will be a typical vehicle in 10 years because it’s not very rational! I’m not sure the SUV architecture will last forever. Having said that, I’m pretty sure we will have [SAE] Level 3 automation as standard in C-segment vehicles by then. It will not be a differentiator; it will be a given. Connectivity in 2030 will be much better than it is today, and will be integrated into the safety systems. It’s very difficult to achieve Level 3 in a reasonable operating domain just with embedded electronics. You’ll need to be connected to an infrastructure — and in 10 years you will be.