Denso, one of the world’s largest producers of original equipment starters and alternators and a leader in rotating machines technology, offers an all-new, OE quality starters and alternators aftermarket programme featuring 2,500 applications for 61 automakers.  With no core surcharge, administration is greatly reduced.  This year, the company plans to expand its programme, offering additional parc coverage and a wider range of vehicle marques. Denso has pioneered a number of innovations in the rotating machines sector over the years.  Unlike many of its competitors, Denso’s range of starters and alternators are new OE quality units rather than re-manufactured units. Matthew Beecham talked with Marko Wowczyna, manager of Denso UK Aftermarket Sales.

just-auto: Although a starter motor and alternator looks like a commodity product, appearances are deceiving.  Could you sum up the main technical advances and specifications for each product over the past decade? 

Marko Wowczyna: “Whether it’s heated seats, electrically powered brakes, air conditioning equipment, power windows or multi-media systems, the rising number of electrical options in modern passenger vehicles all places extra demands on vehicle charging systems.  In response, original equipment manufacturers and their automaker customers are continually seeking technological advances to boost rotating machine performance and reliability whilst minimising impact on the environment.  There are also far-reaching practical considerations on design: many automakers now have exceptionally demanding engine bay packages that require ever smaller parts - yet somehow still ensuring that power output is maintained. 

“Balancing engine space constraints with the continual demand for extra power makes efficiency the top priority so achieving a smaller, space-efficient size and lighter weight without power loss is always at the forefront of designers’ minds. 

“Overall, the common drivers for rotating machine improvement tend to be improved technical performance, alongside reduced size, weight and cost. In many cases this has resulted in a series of relatively fractional physical alterations, but each making an important small step towards optimal part design.”

just-auto: The increasing use of power-hungry options in modern passenger cars is placing unprecedented demands on automotive charging systems. In what ways has your alternators changed to meet these demands?

Marko Wowczyna: “Some of the main technical advances from Denso over the past decade include:

“Starters:

“The applications for Denso replacement starters include a wide range of marques such as BMW, Fiat, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz.
 
“In 2001, Denso introduced the world’s first PS (Planetary Reduction Segment Conductor Motor) starter featuring a square conductor in the armature coil.  It is 22% lighter and 14% shorter than the traditional RA (Reduction A-Type) starter, proving a positive impact on fuel efficiency and making it easier to mount in the engine.

“Continuing size reductions are being made on starter designs in order to reduce the space taken up by the component, and noise is another area where progress is ongoing.  In common with some other OE manufacturers, Denso has been active in developing lighter, quieter starters in response to the escalating list of expectations from vehicle manufacturers. 

“Alternators:

“Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes, Fiat, Ford, Land Rover and Toyota Lexus are among the many top marques that feature alternators from Denso as original equipment, and are also covered by Denso’s aftermarket programme.

“In 2000, Denso introduced the world’s first SC (segment conductor) alternator using a rectangular conductor for its stator coil.  By raising the winding density (space factor) from 45% to 70%, Denso succeeded in making the SC alternator 20% lighter whilst increasing the output to 50% higher than a conventional alternator. 

“In 2005, Denso Corporation announced the development of a new range of OEM alternators that provide higher output currents of 165, 180, 200 and 220 amps – which, as with all Denso alternators, are the smallest and lightest in the world for their output.

“Denso’s 220-amp alternator is also the first air-cooled alternator to offer this kind of power level.  This enables large vehicles – which traditionally required a larger, more expensive water-cooled alternator or two air-cooled alternators – to have one compact air-cooled alternator.”

just-auto: Is there anything else happening in terms of OE technology that will ultimately affect your aftermarket rotating electrics business? 

Marko Wowczyna: “In the field of rotating machine technology, Integrated Starter Generators (ISG) are now being seen on a few vehicle models.  In contrast with traditional technology, ISGs combine two components - the alternator and the starter - into one integrated system.  This creates a ‘stop-start’ effect that operates by cutting the engine when the driver comes to a complete halt.  The engine is switched back on when the driver releases the brake pedal.  ISG technology can offer fuel savings, reduced noise pollution and lower emissions; but is a costly technology requiring additional components and reorganised engine design.  This is a field currently being explored by Denso at OE level that could ultimately filter through to aftermarket customers.”

just-auto: What other technical trends are you seeing in the rotating electrics market?

Marko Wowczyna: “To ensure that Denso’s starter and alternator technical developments continue to evolve to meet current market, environmental and automaker needs, Denso Corporation - headed up in Europe by Denso Europe BV in Amsterdam - continues to be extremely closely involved with its automaker customers from the very start of any product development project concept right through to completion.  The impetus for design and technological change may come from the supplier as often as from the automaker, but an intimate understanding of the initial brief saves many hours of work later on when costly components must be redesigned because the machine cannot be fitted.  Delivering components at OE level means that component manufacturers must, without question, be able to deliver the latest and applicable technology at appropriate cost.  But the automaker’s choice of supplier can also be influenced by the quality of OE quality programme support the manufacturer can offer the replacement aftermarket, as well as the field and warranty performance of those programmes.

“In one development area, Denso engineers are continually researching and testing technologies to reduce fuel energy loss.  This includes kinetic energy, which is lost when decelerating and idling.  To make better use of kinetic energy, we’re improving technology to convert deceleration energy into electricity.  Our aim is to effectively store and reuse the electricity in conjunction with our advanced alternator and battery management system.”

just-auto: Looking at the distribution channels in UK, how is it organised and what are the big changes you are seeing at the moment?  How do you see these channels developing?

Marko Wowczyna: “Rather than being all-makes, Denso’s starter and alternator programme is targeted at specialist distributors capable of packaging together all-makes ranges.  Looking at this section of the market, Denso is seeing increased confidence in, and demand for, OE quality, branded replacement parts that provide ‘right first time’ reassurance.

“Denso’s key distribution partners for starters and alternators, as well as for the rest of its aftermarket programmes, include interfactors, independent factors, specialists, buying groups and national contracts.  Buying groups and national distribution channels are key routes to market, but we also work with many independent customers and, as we grow, have always aimed to avoid the common pitfall of over-distribution.

“For improved control and increased effectiveness, third party warehousing and logistics is now managed by the company’s dedicated aftermarket division in Coventry and undertaken by its carefully selected logistics partner, Nippon Express. The service ensures that the average delivery time to customers is exceptional.  Denso Aftermarket Sales UK is able to offer an overnight delivery service for orders over a certain value, and also offers free weekly stock deliveries to customers, based on a two-day turnaround.”

just-auto: What do you see happening to brand names in the market place? Is the power of brands increasing or diminishing with the changes?

Marko Wowczyna: “Brand names and brand awareness are critical in the aftermarket sector.  The stronger the brand, the better the sales tend to be, due to proven product quality and reliability.  For these reasons we believe that brand names like Denso will continue to dominate the sector. As one of the largest worldwide manufacturers of OE starters and alternators, Denso’s reputation has had a positive impact on the UK aftermarket. 

“Denso has gradually phased out remanufactured rotating machines in recent years and now offers all-new, OE quality starters and alternators to the aftermarket.  This is because we have experienced an increasing demand for new units.  There are several reasons behind this demand.  Increased vehicle complexity means that many factors and workshops are seeking the extra reassurance of like-for-like replacement.  Using all-new, OE quality starters and alternators they can have complete confidence that the part being removed is the same as the replacement supplied.  In addition the move towards smaller, quieter and more powerful rotating machines means they are harder to remanufacture.  So for all-round quality reassurance, some larger distributors do prefer to buy new.   An all-new programme also removes any core bank issues.  This route enables us to respond to market demand, as well as ensuring the 100% OE quality which is central to the Denso brand.”

just-auto: What should the Denso brand sum up in the aftermarket for starters and alternators?

Marko Wowczyna: “Advanced, OE quality engineering for driving comfort, reliability and efficiency.  Denso is well recognised across the automotive and aftermarket sectors as one of the world’s leading developers and manufacturers of automotive parts and systems.  Like all of our aftermarket programmes, Denso’s self-manufactured, all-new, OE-quality replacement starter and alternator programme draws on this impressive OEM heritage, to deliver the same standard of superior performance that is demanded for new vehicles.”

just-auto: What future do you see for the smaller, secondary brands of rotating electrics?

Marko Wowczyna: “Many of the smaller, secondary brands of rotating electrics are re-manufactured or of unidentified origin.  This can potentially mean their performance and reliability suffer – particularly as engine technology becomes more complex and more vehicle specific – and may therefore mean an uncertain future for these brands in the UK aftermarket.  Denso prides itself on its OE quality branded units which gives the reassurance of top quality ‘fit and forget’ products at competitive prices.”

just-auto: In terms of the rotating electrics aftermarket, what level of growth are you seeing in the UK?

Marko Wowczyna: “Denso’s starters and alternator sales are directed at specialist distributors, and in this sector we are seeing sales growth as customers increasingly perceive the benefits of OE fit.  However as our Starters & Alternators programme is not all-makes we are not able to comment on market-wide growth.”