DETROIT—BorgWarner has put itself in the enviable position of not having to care how its customers power the vehicles they build. If the vehicles are going to move, the supplier has parts for them, new CEO Frederic Lissalde says. And the more electrified an auto maker's products, the better for BorgWarner.
"Electrification has a positive impact on us," Lissalde said in an interview. "Our average content per vehicle is higher on a battery-electric vehicle than it is on a hybrid," he said—and higher than on an internal combustion engine vehicle.
"The more electrified it is, the better it is for Borg," said Lissalde, 51, who took over the top job at BorgWarner Aug. 1, when James Verrier stepped down as CEO.
BorgWarner, of Auburn Hills, Mich., ranks No. 25 on Automotive News' list of the Top 100 global parts suppliers, with worldwide sales of $9.80 billion in 2017. Much of the company's revenue has come from the basic building blocks of internal combustion engine vehicles, including transmissions and turbochargers.
But it has been evolving. The company held an investor day last week to lay out its growth plans. Though it trimmed its guidance for this year because of headwinds in China, BorgWarner predicted 33 percent growth in its annual revenue by 2023 to about $14 billion, with an operating margin that year of 13 percent.
Under Verrier, BorgWarner spent the past five years transforming itself and its products to be "agnostic" when it comes to what type of energy will drive vehicles.
"We are not tainted by any one product that we have to sell, or that we don't sell. The product portfolio is so broad, from a combustion perspective, from a hybrid perspective, from a battery-electric vehicle perspective, that customers like talking to us because we have honest and authentic discussions."
The pace of BorgWarner's researcg and development operations has accelerated in recent years as a result, Lissalde said. Strategic acquisitions, such as its 2015 purchase of electric-motor maker Remy International, are also helping BorgWarner expand its offerings while focusing on propulsion, Lissalde said.
"We produce hundreds of millions of parts every year, and this is just going to increase."