BorgWarner’s Christopher J Lanker: ‘Turbocharging is set to go on playing a crucial role in modern gasoline engines’

by Mayank Dhingra 29 Feb 2020


The vice-president and general manager, emissions, thermal and turbo systems, Asia Pacific, BorgWarner on engine downsizing as a continuing trend, supplying newly developed components for a new 1.5-litre BS VI engine for a leading carmaker in India, and the company's positioning as a propulsion system-neutral supplier to best keep pace with the reforms, emission regulations and new market expectations. 

A fair amount of your exhibits at Auto Expo - Components are in the area of forced induction and turbocharging. What gains can a gasoline/petrol engine have by going the forced induction way and how does it complement engine downsizing?
Basically, a turbocharged engine is physically smaller, more economical and produces lesser emissions than a normally aspirated engine producing the same power. Therefore, turbocharging is set to go on playing a crucial role in modern gasoline engines, significantly enhancing the driving experience. As automakers follow the trend towards powertrain electrification and mild hybridisation with 48-volt systems, BorgWarner delivers innovative technologies such as the electrically operated eBooster and eTurbo turbocharging systems. These facilitate further significant improvements for the internal combustion engine in terms of fuel economy, emissions and power delivery. Both enhance time to torque and allow engine downsizing.

How do you see engine downsizing as a trend, given that the second phase of CAFE norms pose even stricter limits on CO2, PM and NOx?
We at BorgWarner think that engine downsizing will continue to be an ongoing trend, especially regarding new mobility trends such as hybridisation. Therefore, we offer our customers technologies that support this downsizing trend with advanced energy-efficiency, like our gasoline variable turbine geometry (VTG) turbocharger.

Can you provide details on the efficiency enhancement of your new range of products such as EGR, VTG and the eTurbo compared to their outgoing models? What engine capacities are they suitable for?
In order to cover global trends and also to meet with current regulations, our aim is to develop new technologies as well as constantly work on further improving our existing systems and products. Our focus is on driving performance and comfort, energy-efficiency and reducing emissions.

With diesel fuel taking a significant beating with many OEMs simply choosing to exit the space and also many countries putting a ban on diesel engines especially in passenger cars, how does it stand to impact BorgWarner's business in the long run?
In India, we are currently witnessing a mix shift from diesel to gasoline/petrol. BorgWarner has been supplying a market-leading Indian passenger car manufacturer with components for 1.3-litre diesel engines since 2008, helping the company achieve BS IV emission standards. Now we are supplying newly developed components for a new 1.5-litre gasoline engine, designed to meet BS VI emission norms. The new cooler will be manufactured using hybrid tube technology, which is best suited for gasoline engines due to their high-performance requirements.

So, on the whole, possible changes will have little impact on BorgWarner as we supply efficient propulsion technologies for all types of vehicles.

How do you see your internal combustion business shaping up in the near-term? Do you anticipate reducing demand for products in this space?
We are still expecting the demand for combustion products to grow in the near future. As we are delivering clean, fast-to-market technology solutions to increase fuel efficiency and performance and reduce emissions of modern combustion vehicles, we provide OEMs with suitable solutions for both, their existing and future vehicle architectures. We even expect the demand for BorgWarner products in combustion propulsion to grow, because advanced combustion products are playing a key role for highly-efficient hybrid technology — where global sales are rising steadily.

Will the aftermarket be one of the key areas to de-risk your business on the OEM front?
Over the years, BorgWarner has built its extensive product portfolio to position the company as propulsion system-neutral and best keep pace with the reforms, emission regulations and new market expectations. So, there is no need to de-risk our business with OEMs. We are able to offer an extensive portfolio for combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles.

BorgWarner provides flexible, cost-effective options for propelling hybrid and electric vehicles with individual components or fully-integrated propulsion system solutions

The aftermarket, of course, is a growing market and an important part of our business strategy. Due to BorgWarner’s broad aftermarket portfolio and its long-standing expertise in this segment, customers continue to benefit from availability, excellent delivery performance and service quality. All BorgWarner aftermarket products are manufactured and tested in line with the stringent quality standards that form the basis for BorgWarner’s excellent reputation as an OE manufacturer for the automotive industry.

What track do you see India taking towards sustainable mobility? Is electrification going to be the final word on sustainability?
Globally, the awareness for climate protection and sustainability is increasing and governments are acting accordingly. This leads to tougher regulations and norms, which, in turn, automakers have to meet with their solutions. New standards are part of a very promising development in India with a steady migration of the market towards next-generation technology.

Electrification will contribute to a great part to a more sustainable mobility. However, BorgWarner’s aim is to help manufacturers to also improve other propulsion technologies and create solutions that support a cleaner, more energy-efficient world — and at the same time not to lose sight of the vehicle’s best performance.

Will EVs in India merely shift pollution from tailpipes to areas where coal-based power plants are situated?
Electrification can significantly improve the situation in densely populated areas. However, to a wider extent, electric mobility as well as an infrastructure for charging points only make sense when the used power is generated from renewable sources like wind, hydropower and solar.

BorgWarner is showcasing its battery packs for EVs. Will it locally assemble these parts to benefit taxation and EV subsidies?
At the moment, we cannot say for sure if and when battery packs, as well as modules, are going to be assembled in India.

What all types of battery packs would you offer and what would be their key attributes from an innovation perspective?
To bolster its product portfolio for electric vehicles, BorgWarner announced a joint venture with Romeo Power Technology in May 2019 to be able to provide battery packs and modules for electric vehicles. These packs feature compact designs for exceptional energy density. Developed with proprietary thermal engineering and battery management expertise, we aim to provide breakthrough range and performance capability. The scalable designs can be tailored to specific customer needs and enable speed-to-market for manufacturers.

What operational challenges can EVs face in India? When do you think an inflection point will be reached and EV sales will surge in the country?
The main challenge is that currently in India there is only limited infrastructure for recharging EVs. And at the moment it’s not foreseeable when this is going to change. Besides implementing stricter emission regulations, from which densely populated areas will benefit greatly, this is another issue that has to be tackled.

(This interview was first published in the February 1, 2020 issue of Autocar Professional)