DETROIT INTERVIEW: BWI director brake systems engineering - Martin Reder
"Regulation is at the front of everybody's mind" - Martin Reder.
BWI Group acquired the business of Delphi Chassis Systems on 1 November, 2009. The product portfolio is split into two complementary groups: ride & handling technologies and braking technologies.
In both areas, the offering ranges from items such as twin-tube dampers and brake system components, through to active systems.
The Group has technologies such as electronically controlled braking and stability systems, the MagneRide controlled damping system and the MR Powertrain Mount.
Director brake systems engineering, Martin Reder, spoke to Simon Warburton, at the recent Detroit Auto Show. Reder has had many assignments within Brake Systems, Chassis Modules, Spindle Bearings and varied Brake Components areas. He has a lengthy resume within GM, Delphi and BWI Group including engineering management, commercial & project management, and component technology development.
j-a: BWI emerged from Delphi a while back -what is the prognosis now you are operating separately - but under Chinese ownership?
MR: BWI came out from hard times - Delphi was spinning out businesses. Of course we started in rough times, but we have doubled our revenues and somewhere by year five or six, we would be triple sales from the start.
People have really learned to run at a different pace, at a different lean let's call it, we are running on a much tighter budget. It [business] is actually very healthy...which eventually relates to confidence in the job market, which results in purchase decisions.
j-a: How does regulation affect BWI and is it realistic?
MR: Regulation is at the front of everybody's mind - we have 35.5mpg in 2017 and 54.5mpg in 2025 - so it is almost double. The first phase we see as a lot of lightweighting. There is a lot of technology to use for premium models in chassis aluminium, some titanium, the interior and so on.
[Another] area is to be able to interface with hybrid powertrains with some combination of gas/electricity.
The 54.5mpg has been passed and is a legal requirement - it has been signed by the President - it pushes the envelope.
j-a: What are some of your in-demand products for North America?
MR: We are on the [Audi] R8 with our MagneRide [controlled suspension system] - that will be optional on the Cadillac ATS but standard on the XTS. We are probably the major shock and damper supplier to BMW. We pay all our bills on our standard products.
We are launching our new ESC by 13 April - the first customer is Taiwanese which is a very strong country for electronics - Taiwan is just about Japanese. We are launching it with the Yulong Group - that is a very interesting partnership - we have a surprisingly close relationship.
j-a: Nearer to home, has the rebound in the US economy been something you have been able to lever?
MR: General Motors is putting in some new plants, Chrysler is bringing on some very exciting models, all of the big three are having success. We are talking to Ford [as well]. It is good to see refreshed investment.
It is an uptick and as the supply industry we are benefiting. We do have some great reputation in the US. We were pretty much break-even last year - we should be making our investors happy from this point on.
j-a: To what extent did Delphi give you a start following the split and what is the current make-up of the management team?
MR: We were pretty much taken care of by Delphi and they put some investment to keep our brakes and controlled suspension going and we are able to build on that in the new ownership.
Our company has kept the same management team in place [and] we have not lost any customers. At the same time, we have added more than a handful or two of new customers as well. We ended up with quite a large amount of patents from our former owners.
The Chinese are starting to understand more - not in a way to disrupt - but to understand. What I said to the board is keep the doors open.
They have been more than willing to come and meet the guys in Europe and Detroit and convey their commitment to the business.
j-a: How do you see BWI in terms of US manufacturing?
MR: We don't have any US factories at all - we are looking at different greenfield and brownfield sites in the US and as the market recovers, there is room to move.
The next low-cost country is probably the Mid-West.
j-a: Is BWI active in lobbying?
MR: AS far as true lobbying, we are not so close as an OEM might be, but as far as up-coming legislation and safety standards, we are fully involved in the electronics safety protocol going on between Europe and the US.
BWI's product portfolio is supported by technical centres in North America, China, Japan, France and Poland and by applications support centres in Australia, Germany, India, Taiwan and the UK. This is in addition to hot and cold weather test centres in North America, China, and Europe.