MAHLE remains on course in terms of its future priorities and is playing an active role in shaping the transformation of the automotive industry. Despite the great strain caused by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the group is forging ahead with its mechatronics and electronics activities through the creation of a new global development center for mechatronics in Kornwestheim, near Stuttgart/Germany. Around 100 engineers work at the location to develop complex product solutions for electric drive systems, actuators, and electric auxiliaries for vehicles with hybrid, hydrogen, or battery electric drives. MAHLE has invested mid-double-digit millions to set up the center. At the start of the year, MAHLE founded a dedicated business unit for electronics and mechatronics. The technology group expects sales growth in this business segment to be well into double digits in the next ten years.
“Our new mechatronics development center is another important step in MAHLE’s technological transformation,” says Wilhelm Emperhoff, Member of the MAHLE Management Board and responsible for the Electronics and Mechatronics business unit. “It’s now particularly important that we develop the right know-how and portfolio so that we can emerge from the current crisis in a stronger position as an established technology and development partner in the automotive industry.”
The new development center in Kornwestheim joins the ranks of MAHLE’s most important electronics and mechatronics development locations worldwide. At centers in Šempeter pri Gorici/Slovenia, Valencia/Spain, and Changshu/China, its engineers are working hard to drive forward the company’s research and development activities in this field.
Product innovations from Kornwestheim
The priority areas for the new development center are mechatronics, electrics/electronics, and the programming and software needed for complex product solutions and systems. “Our work here will particularly focus on the development of complete systems. This is an area in which we have a lot of experience—experience that we can combine with our expertise in electric actuators and electronic controls to achieve optimum results,” says Dr. Armin Messerer, head of the global Mechatronics business segment.
One example of a product solution in this field that has recently been developed at the location is the electric expansion valve (EXV). The EXV is used in refrigerant circuits to ensure that the air conditioning system and the cooling of the traction batteries is optimally controlled. These components will go into series production starting in 2022 and can be used in vehicles with conventional combustion engines as well as in battery electric or hybrid applications. Products like this expansion valve can be comprehensively tested and validated in state-of-the-art test facilities, such as those now also located in Kornwestheim.
Modern working environment encourages creativity and dialog
In its new technology center, MAHLE has created modern office areas with open-plan workplaces, coworking and meeting areas, and redesigned social spaces. “The working environment reflects the latest findings in terms of safety at work and workplace design. It’s modern and flexible, and intended to encourage communication and creativity,” explains Messerer.