‘Lot of li­fe in in­ter­nal com­bus­ti­on en­gi­nes yet’

George Herald - Southern Cape Property Guide & Auto Dealer - - Autodealer -

T­he­re is a me­a­su­re of pa­nic in se­ver­al coun­tries, such as Ger­ma­ny, the U­ni­ted King­dom and Fran­ce, re­gar­ding calls by po­li­ti­ci­ans see­king to ban the sa­le of vehi­cles with in­ter­nal com­bus­ti­on en­gi­nes (ICE) within the next cou­ple of de­ca­des.

Ho­we­ver, this will do litt­le to stop or slow do­wn on­going de­ve­lop­ment of the­se en­gi­nes, which will still be the po­wer u­nits of choi­ce for most pe­op­le wor­ld­wi­de.

This ca­me through cle­ar­ly in an ab­sor­bing pre­sen­ta­ti­on by Vin­cent Val­let­te, ex­port ma­na­ger of Mahle, one of the top com­po­nent and de­ve­lop­ment sup­pliers to the glo­bal au­to­mo­ti­ve in­du­stry. Mahle is acti­ve­ly gro­wing po­ten­ti­al bu­si­ness by pro­vi­ding mo­re techni­cal so­lu­ti­ons.

Val­let­te was ad­dres­sing a con­fe­ren­ce of the re­cent­ly-na­med Re­man Clus­ter of the Re­tail Mo­tor In­du­stry (RMI) or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on at the re­cent Au­to­me­cha­ni­ka Jo­han­nes­burg tra­de fair for the au­to­mo­ti­ve af­ter­mar­ket at the Ex­po Cen­t­re.

The Re­man Clus­ter is ma­de up of four RMI as­so­ci­a­ti­ons: the SA Die­sel Fu­el In­jecti­on As­so­ci­a­ti­on (Sad­fia), En­gi­ne Re­ma­nu­fac­tu­rers’ As­so­ci­a­ti­on (Era), Au­to­mo­ti­ve Com­po­nent Re­ma­nu­fac­tu­rers’ As­so­ci­a­ti­on (A­cra) and the Tur­bo­char­ger Re­ma­nu­fac­tu­rers’ As­so­ci­a­ti­on (Tra).

Mahle is a Ger­man-ba­sed com­pa­ny which star­ted li­fe as an al­loy pis­ton ma­nu­fac­tu­rer in 1920. It now pro­vi­des com­po­nents for mo­re than half the vehi­cles ma­de glo­bal­ly. It i­ni­ti­al­ly con­cen­tra­ted on sup­plying O­ri­gi­nal E­quip­ment Ma­nu­fac­tu­rers (OEMs), with 92% of its bu­si­ness in that sec­tor. It is now look­ing to grow its share of the af­ter­mar­ket bu­si­ness, which has been at on­ly 8% of tur­no­ver. The gro­wth ap­pro­ach in­clu­des of­fe­ring a ran­ge of ga­ra­ge e­quip­ment going for­ward.

Val­let­te’s to­pic at the Re­man Clus­ter con­fe­ren­ce was to con­si­der the fu­tu­re of the in­ter­nal com­bus­ti­on en­gi­ne.

He was op­ti­mis­tic, saying that e­lec­tric po­wer may ta­ke mar­ket share in so­me First Wor­ld mar­kets, but ICE pro­ducti­on would con­ti­nue to grow as the glo­bal vehi­cle num­bers are ex­pected to in­cre­a­se from the 74-mil­li­on u­nits in 2010 to an es­ti­ma­ted 123-mil­li­on in 2030.

For this re­a­son, he said that com­pa­nies such as Mahle will con­ti­nue to co­me up with in­no­va­ti­ve so­lu­ti­ons to im­pro­ving ICE ef­fi­cien­cy by cut­ting fu­el con­sump­ti­on and e­mis­si­ons. Re­du­cing fricti­on was a ma­jor chal­len­ge and Mahle was one of the wor­ld le­a­ders with its high-tech pis­tons and rings. The com­pa­ny has mo­re than 6 000 en­gi­neers wor­king in 15 re­se­arch and de­ve­lop­ment fa­ci­li­ties ta­king up the chal­len­ge of im­pro­ving o­ver­all ICE ef­fi­cien­cies.

Val­let­te said that Mahle was al­so a par­ti­ci­pant in e­lec­tri­fi­ca­ti­on techno­lo­gy and be­lie­ved t­he­re would be four dis­tinct ty­pes of po­wer u­nits soon: do­wn­si­zed in­ter­nal com­bus­ti­on en­gi­ne, pe­trol or die­sel with e­lec­tric hy­brids, so­me with a plug-in fa­ci­li­ty, or pu­re e­lec­tric and fu­el cell. The Ger­man com­pa­ny was en­su­ring it was in­vol­ved in all four a­re­as of de­ve­lo­ping techno­lo­gy.

He ad­ded that the big chal­len­ge was still to cut CO² e­mis­si­on as it is seen as the ma­jor cul­prit in glo­bal war­ming.

“It is dif­fi­cult to get a cle­ar pic­tu­re of the way for­ward and t­he­re are ma­ny ob­sta­cles to chan­ge. All of this ma­kes li­fe in the au­to­mo­ti­ve wor­ld chal­len­ging and de­man­ding,” con­clu­ded Val­let­te.

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