Commercial vehicles are an integral part of Schaeffler’s strategy

Besides the passenger cars segment, the commercial vehicles sector is also of growing importance for NEXUS. That’s why suppliers that provide parts for both passenger cars (PC) and commercial vehicles (CV) are ideal partners. How is Schaeffler doing in this respect?

NEXUS spoke to Keith Leadbeater, Director Commercial Vehicles Program at Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket.

Mister Leadbeaterm, which developments and challenges do you see for the CV market in the coming years?

Up to 2025, we expect continuous annual vehicle fleet growth of between 4% and 8%, so we can expect an increasing need for repair. In addition, we are observing three trends that are increasingly shaping the development of the market. First, emission limits are becoming ever stricter. Second, the technology is progressing. We assume that we will see many innovations in the course of digitalization, such as autonomous driving, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and so-called platooning. This enables reduced aerodynamic drag per vehicle and saves fuel with the help of a reduced safety margin. Third, we expect urbanization to increase and that last-mile deliveries will shift to light commercial vehicles powered by alternative propulsion systems. The result will be more and more mixed fleets of heavy and light commercial vehicles.

How will you meet these trends?

We are taking a close look at all these trends. We are discussing them with customers and stakeholders, and will derive future development fields from this. We already have an assortment today that will meet the mixed fleets of tomorrow – with several brands, 65 product categories and 3,000 repair solutions for chassis, engine and transmission used in 36 light commercial vehicle models. In addition, we are developing innovations for tomorrow and will incorporate them into our product portfolio at the time the market needs them. We’re working on super-low-friction components for maximum fuel economy and on sensor-equipped wheel bearings for medium-term support of features such as predictive maintenance or on-board weighing. We are developing e-axle components for medium to long-term drive electrification. And with steer-/drive-by-wire from Schaeffler Paravan, we hold a key technology for autonomous driving in our hands. Of course, we will implement all these components in the Aftermarket at the appropriate time.

Mister Leadbeater, Schaeffler has been a leading supplier in the car segment for decades. Is that true for the heavy commercial vehicle sector as well?

Yes, we have been very successful in the heavy commercial vehicle segment for many years as well. FAG, for example, is a long-term OE partner of manufacturers such as Volvo and Scania. INA supplies Renault and Volvo. LuK is a clutch supplier for, among other things, the Mercedes-Benz series production of the MP4, Antos, Arocs and Atego. We are globally positioned with our research and development centers, as well as with our production facilities, and we work closely with the manufacturers of heavy commercial vehicles. Of course, the Aftermarket also benefits from our expertise in original equipment – our OE and IAM divisions are closely interlinked

Which solutions for heavy commercial vehicles does Schaeffler offer for the automotive Aftermarket?

We provide solutions for trucks, buses and trailers. Our portfolio contains spare parts like bearings for the transmission or differential; as well as complete repair solutions for transmission, engine and chassis. Among our garage-oriented repair solutions are the LuK RepSet SmarTAC with the innovative HD 30 PLUS clutch disc friction lining, the FAG Repair Insert Unit, and the FAG SmartSET. Our service brand REPXPERT offers garages support, not only for cars, but also for commercial vehicles. This includes an online portal with repair instructions and technical information, along with training and individual expert advice. We are gradually expanding the content related to heavy commercial vehicles.

The CV organization at Schaeffler in the Automotive Aftermarket, how is it set-up, especially in direct comparison with the passenger car segment?

Basically, the commercial vehicle segment is an integral part of Schaeffler’s strategy, like the passenger car segment. However, both segments differ significantly due to the fact that CVs are used commercially. Total cost of ownership (TCO) is crucial to the economic success of the vehicle owner. Our primary goal, therefore, is to provide our customers with significant improvements in terms of efficiency and sustainability with the help of intelligent repair solutions, reducing downtime and reducing operating costs. This is because the main drivers of the business are the high mobility and operational readiness of the vehicles – the “uptime”, as well as the operating costs – the total cost of ownership (TCO). As far as the specific set-up is concerned, our passenger car team is organized according to vehicle systems: transmission, engine, chassis. By contrast, the commercial vehicles organization is based on vehicle class: heavy commercial vehicles, light commercial vehicles, agricultural vehicles and fleets. With this structure, we follow the requirements of the market, because the environment of market participants and their requirements differ in part from vehicle segment to vehicle segment.

E-commerce, telematics, artificial intelligence: Digitalization is advancing rapidly in the CV segment. Will there be corresponding solutions from Schaeffler available in the Aftermarket over the short- or medium-term?

We see digitalization as an opportunity to support complex on-site repair processes, to intensify our dialogue with our customers worldwide and to make the sales process leaner and more efficient. Apart from that, we support forward-looking tools and platforms such as the CARUSO digital data marketplace. Further cooperation in the field of digital services is already in preparation. Stay tuned – we will keep you up to date!

By: Schaeffler Group