The pressure is on

Meeting the fuel economy demands of OEMs puts a great burden on fuel-injection suppliers such as Delphi. Steve Gregory explains how the firm is coping

The pressure on OEMs has never been greater. On the one hand they are required to deliver the fuel economy and driving performance that the public seeks, while on the other they must simultaneously meet the increasingly stringent emissions legislation demanded by governments and market forces. 

The need to juggle these conflicting objectives and the difficulty of doing so is not going away, but in fact is gathering momentum. If OEMs are subjected to such pressures, then their suppliers are naturally forced to share the experience. 

For a Tier One like Delphi, involved in supplying fuel-injection systems to the car and commercial vehicle industries, the conflicting objectives are acutely felt. Cost is a big issue, admits the firm’s diesel systems managing director, Steve Gregory. 

“It is a constant requirement for us to keep showing benefits to customers,” he says.

“It is a very harsh environment we are in. Our customers are not selling as many trucks as they did in 2008, when we went into the recession, so for them we know it is very challenging. 

“They need high performance and at lowest cost, which is tough for us when the market is as volatile as it is. 

“We are having to spend more and more money on equipment and engineering for each programme and yet the time cycles between emissions legislation and between contracts are typically getting shorter and shorter. 

“It makes it very difficult, so we have to plan for the long term and really try to think ahead.”

The economic conditions for fuel-injection providers are so harsh that there are only a few global competitors for Delphi. Gregory explains: “For commercial vehicles it is even less. It is because there are natural barriers to entry but also because you have got to be really committed to making it work – you cannot go half-heartedly into this business.”

Without question, Delphi is fully committed and as a signal of its intent recently unveiled its latest range of modular diesel commonrail systems for medium duty, as well as a new high-pressure direct-injection natural gas injector for heavy-duty applications.

tags: Jan-Feb 2015 Delphi Powertrain