Is the impending change that obvious?
Dr. Sohi: The question is not whether the change will come but how fast. The move to alternative drivetrains will vary from region to region and heavily depends on the specific regulatory framework in the individual countries – environmental and energy policy decisions will also play a role.
Looking beyond industrial customers and individual national policies – what role will end-users play?
Dr. Sohi: A vital role. Demand always drives supply. In the future, we predict relevancy for multiple drivetrain types– depending on their intended use. Electric vehicles will come sooner to urban areas, while efficient internal combustion engines will remain relevant in rural areas and for vehicles travelling greater distances. Technology will cater to consumer needs. We expect the changes to be more of an evolution than a revolution.
What are your goals as a company?
Dr. Sohi: We want to remain a competent supplier of high-tech innovation – for all drivetrain types. The innovations will include improvements to current internal combustion engines, hybrid engines or fuel cells along with those to purely electric vehicles.
Where are the opportunities for Freudenberg?
Dr. Sohi: We are well prepared. Thanks to our technological and material expertise, we will remain an important partner for many OEMs. Just look at battery technology or fuel cell products for example. Our nonwovens and filters are highly relevant to these markets. The markets for our sealing technology products are going to change, while they remain highly relevant. Our job is to advance the technologies we have, find new ideas and move forward with our customers.
What does your product portfolio include?
Dr. Sohi: Our components are often used in critical areas, such as batteries, engines, charging units and numerous other elements. Innovative Freudenberg solutions help make vehicles safer by using the latest battery components. Filters help keep air clean in vehicle interiors. A broad spectrum of seals increases vehicle life and improves thermal management. State-of-the-art vibration control systems help control vehicular noise and speciality chemical lubricants make them more efficient.
So the automotive industry is important for your company?
Dr. Sohi: The automotive industry will remain extremely important to Freudenberg; our customers are driving our innovations. Technologies, we develop for the automotive industry can be used elsewhere in the Group.