Innovations for family trucks and electric cars: the MAHLE US strategy

We take a look across the Atlantic at our colleagues from MAHLE North America: the automotive industry here is caught between the traditional expectations of the industry and customers on the one hand and rapid innovative developments, primarily being driven forward in California, on the other. Whether it’s SUVs with large engines or ultramodern electric cars—MAHLE expertise is always in great demand in the USA.

Between the classic drive and the mobility of tomorrow

Scott Ferriman is forging ahead with MAHLE’s dual strategy in the North American region.

The engine in the Dodge is a real power pack: a swept volume of 6.3 liters and more than 500 HP. Despite its impressive performance figures, this is an everyday car in the USA. It not only meets the expectations of American automobile manufacturers when it comes to mobility but those of their customers too: a little extra is always welcome—think big.

The MAHLE Vice President of Sales in North America, Scott Ferriman, illustrates the difference in the USA using another model: the Chrysler Pacifica, which was just recently named “Utility Car of the Year,” or most useful everyday car. “A typical second car that parents use to drive their children to school or do the shopping,” says Ferriman, explaining the general use of the seven-seater, which has a length of more than five meters.

There is a lot of MAHLE technology in the Chrysler Pacifica: a power cell unit, intake manifold, air cleaner module, active carbon filter, and the HVAC module including compressor. For Ferriman, these vehicles are evidence that the combustion engine will still play an influential role for a long time to come. And something that may come as a surprise in view of the current debate: pickup manufacturers are increasingly opting for diesel technology!

Closely networked with our customers

In Plymouth/Michigan, MAHLE Powertrain is working with its customers on new solutions for new models. We are not talking about individual components here, but complete systems and engines. The customers also appreciate the software knowledge of the MAHLE experts, who are working intensively on solutions to protect the complex systems of modern vehicles even more effectively against cyberattacks.

The future at a glance

However, large engines and big car bodies should not obscure the fact that the automotive industry in North America is also in transition. “The Chrysler Pacifica is a good example of this. It is the first in its class to be equipped with a plug-in hybrid drive. Electrification is also in full swing here,” asserts Scott Ferriman.

Ferriman believes that hybrid drives—electric drives in conjunction with a combustion engine—will play a significant role in the future: “So at MAHLE, we’re on precisely the right course with our dual strategy—that is, the further optimization of the combustion engine and the simultaneous development of solutions for e-mobility.”

All new in the West

On the west coast of America, Mauricio Silva is completely in his element when he is on the road with an electric car, a Tesla Model S. You don’t need to worry about being stranded on the wayside with an empty battery when traveling with a Tesla, Silva assures us: “Here in California, the infrastructure is very good.”

In terms of e-mobility, California is several vehicle lengths ahead of the other U.S. states. Mauricio Silva has been running a MAHLE office between San Francisco and Los Angeles since mid-2016. Tesla, Google, and Apple are only a few minutes’ drive away. “We want to establish contacts and show what we at MAHLE have to offer,” he explains. In fact, the company is making an impact in the electric vehicle market with a series of products. “We have solutions that optimally control the battery temperature,” says Silva.

A faster pace of innovation

However, new players in the field of e-mobility do not simply need different products from those of established vehicle manufacturers. Mauricio Silva also knows: “The newcomers to the automobile market move at a very different speed and are highly innovative. Like everyone who works in Silicon Valley.” And American end consumers opting for an electric vehicle also have different habits from those that are customary in the market. They normally want to take their car away with them immediately when they go to a dealership; in the case of an electric vehicle, however, they will have to reckon with waiting times of several months. In many respects, the transition in North America has already begun.

 

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