What’s the biggest challenge facing the powertrain industry?
The lowering of harmful emissions, in particular CO2 and Nox, as well as reduction of fuel consumption.
Do legislators help or hinder?
Legislators are helping mostly HEV and EV. less so with gasoline or diesel engines vehicles, which only have emission target to avoid penalties on purchasing price for the final customers. For the OEM or suppliers there are many financial incentives through R&D program on these topics in France.
What technologies is Saint Jean Industries working on at the moment?
We are currently focused on light weighting and thermal management of the powertrain through parts that we manufacture, including cylinder heads; cylinder block; turbochargers; crankshafts; camshafts; and engine brackets, based on design and improvement of the manufacturing process.
For example, we have developed a hollow crankshaft produced in shell molding with a core. The prototype is made of cast iron but the material could evolve depending on targeted mechanical properties. Currently we have achieved a 20% weight saving on a three-cylinder crankshaft.
In terms of high-performance cylinder heads, we have worked on improving the LPPM process to achieve the best mechanical properties, especially on the deck face. The water jacket has been optimized and also air flow thanks to the new design of the core and a specific coating.
By improving the shell molding process we have also been able to design a turbine housing with a thin hollow section in order to water cool the component during engine operation. With this improvement we expect a weight saving of approximately 50% and a cost saving of 20%.
How will your work evolve in the next 10 years?
We predict that the gasoline engine market share will increase and in this market we expect to see an increase in turbochargers and maybe changes in engine architecture to improve efficiency. We also need to keep a focus on the HEV and EV market, which will expand.
How will powertrain technology have changed by 2030?
Fuel vehicles will consume less and become cleaner. We expect traditional fuel vehicles to account for at least 90% of production in Europe but we expect more HEVs and EVs, and development of other technologies such as hydrogen-powered vehicles. All these vehicles will require light weighting.