GKN Driveline says it is experiencing particularly strong growth for its all-wheel drive and hybrid vehicle products from its OEM customers. 

Speaking exclusively to just-auto at the SMMT Annual Dinner earlier this week, Robert Rickell, GKN Driveline's Global Engineering Director, said that all-wheel drive system demand and volumes for GKN customers are continuing to grow strongly.

“There are incredible volumes for all-wheel drive vehicles in China,” he said. “It's an image thing in China, with premium makers selling well and the top models from VW, Audi, BMW, they are all-wheel drive vehicles and they have the content that we supply.”

He also said that GKN's driveline business for electrified vehicles is seeing significant growth, but noted that growth is mainly in systems for hybrid vehicles rather than pure electric vehicles.

“Pure electric is a lot slower than many people had anticipated,” he said. “It will come in time, but right now it is slow, with customers not accepting the fully electric vehicles. But there is a rapdily growing business for our hybrid products,” Rickell maintains.

He believes that strong growth ahead for hybrids will be driven by tighter European CO2 emission regulatory standards.

“As the 130g/km CO2 legislation comes in in Europe in 2015, that will drive hybrids very strongly because the only way for many OEMs to achieve that is by having hybrids in the fleet. And when 95g/km comes in in 2020, then it will only be possible by having substantial numbers of hybrids in the fleet. There will be a whole lot of hybrids and a major part of the European car market will be hybrids.”

As far as GKN Driveline's overall business is concerned, Rickell highlights strong demand in the Americas and Asia, contrasting with a mixed picture in Europe. He sees a broad contrast between north and southern Europe. 

“The premium customers in Germany and northern Europe are doing quite well and our output to them is quite good. Southern Europe is much more difficult, when you look at OEMs such as Fiat and PSA. And car markets there are obviously very depressed,” he said.