Foundry on Wheels: Interview with Robert Dover (Board Member SinterCast AB / Chairman Advanced Propulsion Centre Ltd)
1. As manager and a top senior experienced person in this industry: what's in the mind in terms of strategy, in terms of vision of a OEM CEO?
The key issue for all automotive CEOs is the acceleration of change in the marketplace and the political and technical arena.
All these challenges, whether it's politics, connected car, autonomous vehicle, light weighting or electrification are coming together. They all demand engineering resources. And those resources simply are not available.
So, to make an example: ten years ago you had a range of diesel engines and you had a range gasoline engines. Today you need to have diesel, gasoline, battery, hybrid, plugin hybrid, you have to be developing your fuel cells strategy, your raw material strategy, your light weighting strategy and there are no people to do this.
So what you need to do and what has occupied many CEOs is how do you partner with other people because otherwise the Tier 1 suppliers “are going to reach for your lunch”.
The power is going to move from the OEM to the tier 1s who can supply this technology, people like Bosch, like Denso, like Continental, people that are here talking with us today. And that's the real concern they have.
The business model is changing. Ten years ago, I asked the question: what skills do we need in product development for the future? The answer is: you can't have them all. No company can manage to make a car anymore. We need strategic partnerships and we need absolutely to be a system integrator. That's the key skill. You need to be able to integrate all these systems in the sense of all cost-effective modular way.
2. Do you believe that in 20 years internal combustion engine will still be in the lead?
Yes, still in the lead. No question about it. It provides a fantastic value, you can control emissions, you can refill very quickly, the fuel is available and you can do it without particles, without NOX, without 9«, and if it’s a diesel you can have control of the CO2. So absolutely, the internal combustion engine will still be predominant.
3. Do you think events like this are useful in terms of building these partnerships that you say that automotive industry needs?
I think these events are very good. It’s very good for engineers to have a fact-based debate, a data-based debate instead of just reading and panicking about what you read in red top newspapers headlines. So, that’s important.
Number two, it’s very helpful to network with people in the industry and to try and share understanding a problem and potential solution. So, for example, my message for this group, Vitor asked me to answer “well, is it aluminium or is it iron”? Actually, it’s both! They can work together, but the key thing is that the future of high performances castings it’s extremely bright, it’s extremely important.
I showed some examples of high pressure die casting, aluminium low pressure die casting and aluminium together with CGI for engine blocks, used in a very cost-effective way. The key is innovation and high performing castings, it’s going to be a guarantee recipe for success in this business. No question about it!