Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO, ZF Group, Auto News, ET Auto


Q. How do you see the sustainability of electric vehicles, as there is a growing debate about emissions from the fuel cycle of electric vehicles which includes the extraction of emissions from raw materials, an energy source like coal, etc. ., and also the recycling of batteries?

Some of the critical remarks are certainly correct for today’s world; for example, using energy from polluting energy sources like coal. You touched on the raw material, but in the last few years thousands of great engineers are working on solving these topics and many have already been solved. For example, the use of the rarer magnets in motors has been drastically reduced for some of the more difficult or, say, the rarest portions that we were using a few years ago.

So our engineers are working a lot to make the battery electric vehicle truly sustainable, and I’m very optimistic that over the next 10 years we will solve most or even all of these obstacles. So that electric mobility can be the solution of the next decade.

The use of the rarer magnets in motors has been drastically reduced for some of the more difficult or, say, the rarest portions that we were using a few years ago.Wolf-Henning Scheider – Chairman and CEO, ZF Friedrichshafen Group

Q. I just want to understand how the imperatives are going to be different for the developed economy and the developing economy as we move towards the future of sustainable mobility?

Well, certainly in developing countries, but also in many parts of the developed world, infrastructure plays a major role. We see more and more vehicles now in showrooms and there are very affordable electric vehicles among them.

Infrastructure is a major subject. Charging at home is certainly a good solution for people who mainly drive in urban areas. But if we are to replace the combustion engine vehicle, infrastructure is key. And I still see a big gap in many areas in India, Europe and the United States despite big government actions to build this faster.

This is why we see the plug-in hybrid as a great solution at least for the next 15-20 years, because with a plug-in hybrid you can charge it at home or at your workplace and then travel a long distance in car. in case you need it beyond 100 km using the heat engine. So this is one of the main reasons why we believe so much in technology at least for the next two decades.

We see the plug-in hybrid as a great solution at least for the next 15-20 yearsWolf henning scheider

Q. What are the forces or, could you say, mega-trends that you see around the world that will shape the future of sustainable mobility?

Well, the big trends are definitely electric mobility, which for me is strategically already underway and ZF is in full execution of electric mobility but strategically with our long global presence we are sure that we will be the world market leaders with our product.

But what goes beyond the next wave of transformation is the connected vehicle, the software-defined vehicles. We need these vehicles with updated wireless software so that we can improve the functions, load new functions into the vehicle.

Maybe even increase efficiency over time with most modern algorithms using AI in the server side back end and then giving new functions to the vehicle. So for me, this is just as big a transformation as the one we talked about in the propulsion system. And it’s going to hit the markets pretty strongly in the middle of this decade. ZF is therefore preparing strongly in this area.

And then if we look at other functions, I mean long term, let’s face it. All the vehicles will be autonomous but no one knows where. Yes, so it will certainly take a few decades for the vehicles to operate autonomously. But for comfort, it would obviously be everyone’s dream and we are working on it.

The path to sustainable mobility is through electrified and automated vehicles and we believe that it is not just battery electric vehicles, but plug-in hybrid vehicles that will play a role.Wolf henning scheider

We must therefore introduce increasingly higher autonomous functions and a great roadmap, also for electric vehicles. In the meantime, it is important to increase security. It is also very important for Indian market and many others to use software and hardware functions for security. ZF is also working on low-cost autonomous or automatic driving functions with a primary aim of safety and in the longer term, helping to make the vehicle autonomous.

Q. You mentioned the PHEV; of course, the PHEV is going to play an important role, especially for emerging markets like India and others where infrastructure remains a challenge. I just want to understand how you see fuel cell or hydrogen vehicles? What kind of, you know, market share.

There is certainly room in this area for fuel cells because some trucks make long trips. We estimate that maybe up to half of the truck fleet is doing long trips. And the battery is not really the best solution in this case, due to the weight and cost of a battery for a truck that has to travel over 600-1000 km on very many trips.

So we are focusing on the fuel cell for commercial vehicles and there will be ZF solutions to come. But anyway, we also see that the other part of the truck market will be the battery because in the cities, and then the not so long distances for the daily truck trip, the battery could be the solution. Due to the overall efficiency of the hydrogen system, where you use a lot of energy in the process of producing hydrogen, and then also using in the vehicle, the overall efficiency is still lower than the efficiency of ‘a combustion engine today. This is why we believe that for the passenger car, the battery and the rechargeable hybrid are the best solutions.

Q. In your presentation, you mentioned that ZF will be carbon neutral by 2040. Can you share with us what concrete steps you have taken so far? How does it work in the next two decades, since we are already in 2021?

First of all, it’s always reduction, energy efficiency. Thus, we reduce our energy consumption by 2% each year. Work hard with the project, despite the growth of the business, So Net worth is much higher and lower. And it is by thousands of projects from all sides to create energy efficiency, hydrogen energy efficiency and simply reduce consumption.

Over the next 10 years, we will solve barriers such as emissions in the economy of the full cycle of electric vehicles.Wolf henning scheider

The other part is turning to renewable energies. I mentioned solar as a major supplier to the wind industry. Obviously we also go for wind farms and also prepare ZF ownership partnerships in wind farms in order to supply our own renewable energy to our factories.

Other measures are moving away from natural gas, either towards renewable electricity or towards green resources. The hardest part is what’s called the upstream and downstream product use for our supply chain and for the use of our products. With the use of our products, we want to be in 100% renewable vehicles by 2040.

So beyond that, we don’t want to sell products that go into combustion engines and only really durable vehicles. And I think it is possible. It’s extremely difficult, but that’s our goal and I think it’s possible. With our suppliers, we have already had intense discussions, to motivate them to follow the same path, and we are receiving a lot of positive feedback on this subject. I am therefore sure that our supply base will follow us by also being CO2 neutral by 2040.

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