Executive Insights: BorgWarner VP and CTO Hakan Yilmaz
With Delphi Technologies expected to join its portfolio, BorgWarner is focusing on value-added solutions for emerging propulsion architectures.
The automotive sector is in a time of enormous flux. As the foundational aspects of the industry shift, longstanding Tier-1 suppliers such as BorgWarner must continue to drive innovation for their OEM customers. Hakan Yilmaz, BorgWarner’s chief technology officer (CTO) and a VP, is better situated than most to architect the changes affecting the technology at the core of the propulsion revolution. SAE’s Automotive Engineering sought his insights into changes roiling the field.
Yilmaz (right) oversees BorgWarner’s advanced engineering, portfolio strategy and market research teams, a position tasked with ensuring the supplier’s technical portfolio leads in the industry, while also meeting current and anticipated future market needs. Prior to joining BorgWarner, Yilmaz spent more than 15 years at Bosch, where he held several engineering and executive positions before departing as the global head of powertrain systems and advanced engineering. Before Bosch, Yilmaz earned experience at Volvo and holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and engineering management from the University of Michigan.
Strong electrification shift
The industry’s propulsion strategies continue to diversify beyond the previously ubiquitous choice of gasoline or diesel. As with many of the top suppliers, Yilmaz noted that electrification is a general description for an efficiency improver, but how it will be applied can vary widely by vehicle type and regional regulatory environments. “At our core, BorgWarner is focused on executing our balanced product strategy across combustion, hybrid and electric propulsion,” Yilmaz said.
“We are currently seeing a strong market shift towards highly diverse solutions for electrified vehicles with different architectures and electrification levels – mild HEV, full HEV, plug-in HEV and BEV – mainly driven by legislative requirements, regional market demands and segment specific expectations,” Yilmaz explained. “In a volatile and rapidly evolving environment, BorgWarner is focusing on differentiating and value-added solutions for emerging propulsion architectures which fit into the main strategies of our customers.”
For many suppliers, electrification (via systems such as e-axles, e-boosting, etc.) is receiving the lion’s share of engineering resources, as markets such as North America in particular seek to improve the efficiency of larger, more profitable, internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs. Yilmaz confirmed that BorgWarner is dedicating large resources to electrification, but the key to applying the technology across vehicle lineups remains in the technology’s scalability.
“Indeed, hybrid and electric powertrains are in our clear focus for product leadership and receiving a high share of our resources,” Yilmaz said. “And yes, our electrified and integrated products are fully scalable and can be adapted based on the needs of our global customers in passenger cars, trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.” Yilmaz pointed to several examples already in the BorgWarner product portfolio, including its integrated Px modules for hybrids, integrated drive modules for BEVs with scalable voltage and power levels, and ICE solutions such as its eTurbo and the eBooster electrically charged compressor.
Key roles for ICE, software – and Delphi
Though electrification is a key aspect of all OEMs’ future portfolios, according to Yilmaz, ICE will continue to be a large part of the propulsion landscape in the near term, particularly as a component to be evolved and improved. “There is still a lot of technology and innovation in conventional propulsion systems in ICE, transmission and drivetrain to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions,” Yilmaz said. “We continue to see increasing take rates for many of our conventional products – let’s not forget that. In addition, emerging hybrid architectures are increasing demand for efficient ICE products which are synergistic with the electrification levels.”
According to Yilmaz, a prime example is eTurbo tech. BorgWarner has a major European OEM that will be launching a new model with this technology in 2022. An eTurbo serves its traditional role of boosting intake air pressures, but the single-shaft setup also features integrated power electronics, and can serve as a motor/generator to provide a supplemental electrical boost to improve engine fuel economy and performance.
The move towards electrified components has created an enormous shift, from supplying mechanical parts, to components that must be fully integrated into a host of a vehicle’s electronic control systems. This places increased responsibility on suppliers, and particularly on software. Yilmaz notes that regardless of the system supplied, reliability is paramount. “Our focus is very clear – support our OE customers with leading and differentiating stand alone and/or fully integrated system products as a reliable partner.”
“We have a very comprehensive product portfolio for combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles and have built system capabilities in order to develop the right products,” Yilmaz continued. “As the electrification content of our products is rapidly increasing, our software and system capabilities are growing in parallel,” as the company takes a “pragmatic and flexible approach” to product and system development.
With electronic control strategies becoming a larger part of system functionality, BorgWarner’s recent announcement of entering into a definitive transaction agreement to acquire Delphi Technologies should only help broaden its technology portfolio. “This transaction represents the next step in our balanced propulsion strategy, strengthening our position in electrified propulsion as well as our combustion, commercial vehicle and aftermarket businesses,” Yilmaz said.
According to Yilmaz, the Delphi purchase makes great sense in terms of the two entities’ specialties. “Our products will complement each other for complete engine-management systems, combining air/fuel and controls, full hybrid solutions with our integrated modules, and plug-to-wheel product and system solutions for battery electric vehicles,” he said.
“Delphi Technologies brings industry leading power electronics technology and talent, with an established production, supply and customer base,” Yilmaz added. “Once we complete the Delphi Technologies transaction, we would be able to offer customers more complete electrified propulsion systems,” thus helping BorgWarner differentiate and strengthen its propulsion-systems position.