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SKF CEO: traditional suppliers must prepare themselves for rising new energy vehicles

DALIAN, Liaoning – SKF, a global tier-2 supplier of auto bearings and seals, began to develop bearings and seals for hybrid, plug-in and battery electric vehicles, said the company CEO Tom Johnstone at 2011 SKF Technical Press Day held in early March in the harbor city of Dalian, Liaoning Province.

Tom told CBU/CAR that a pure electric vehicle is also a vehicle and therefore it needs basic chassis and also other normal components such as bearings and seals in many areas. “For hybrid vehicles as well, the engine and driveline inside combine both normal parts of a gasoline vehicle and a hybrid system. Therefore, those energy-saving hybrids and EVs, especially from a global perspective, will also have great potentials for our products.” But Tom admitted that traditional suppliers like SKF have to prepare for the challenges coming from the emerging pure electric vehicles.

Alex Teng, head of Car Sales, SKF China Automotive Division, echoed with Tom. But he admitted that the popularization of pure electric vehicles, which employ motors to replace engines and transmissions, will surely produce “some impact on the future demand of traditional bearings inside engines and drivelines.”

Both Tom and Alex believe that the hybrids, pure electrics and traditional combustion engines will coexist for a long time within a foreseeable future and suppliers should prepare for all possible technology routes.

Currently the Sweden-headquartered supplier has 130 production bases in 32 countries, including 12 plants in mainland China. Its product line covers bearings, seals, mechatronics, services, and lubrication systems.

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