Speaker Interview: Marcus Hafkemeyer, VP Electric Powertrain, BAIC BJEV

MarcusIn our latest speaker interview we spoke to Marcus Hafkemeyer, VP Electric Powertrain at BAIC BJEV. Marcus will be speaking on the 'Introduction of BAIC - BJEV and the BJEV Battery Technology Roadmap' session on Tuesday 15 May, Track 1 of The Battery Show Europe Conference.  

Marcus Hafkemeyer is currently responsible for the electric powertrain development of BAIC BJEV. This includes the development of the electric motor, inverter, DC-DC converter, gearbox, battery and on/off-board charger equipment. His core focus will be the implementation of modular platform powertrain development aligned with our future vehicle platform portfolio.

Tell us about your role and responsibilities. What do you see as your core focus for the immediate and long-term future?

So far, we have been focused on each vehicle venture as a unique development project with its own motor, inverter and battery.

We will achieve higher development efficiency, higher quality and lower costs due to higher component volumes by adjusting our development activities in the next years.

Another target is to prepare the powertrain team to collaborate with international Tier 1 suppliers and engineering companies in order to check, compare (benchmark), learn from and utilise other technology solutions. This will also support our approach to expand to other vehicle markets (in Europe and the United States) in the near future.


What are the biggest challenges that you see across the sector?

China is already the biggest electromobility market in the world. This success story is and was mostly driven by government policies and strong subsidies both money-wise and regulation-wise (for instance, license plate accessibility). In this current market situation, only domestic electric vehicle producers are playing a dominant role. But this will change due to the fact that subsidies are continuously decreasing with a final fade out by 2020. This means the competition with international OEMs coming to China with their electric vehicles is one of the biggest challenges we must prepare our company for. 


Where do you see the biggest growth opportunities in electric vehicle markets?

In particular in China, I think car-sharing vehicles and vehicles powered by electric powertrains will have an increased implementation of autonomous functionality. My belief is that these trends are somewhat interrelated in the perception of the Chinese people. The sensitivity around environmental impact by combustion-engine-driven cars is increasing significantly, especially in China. In particular, in Tier 1 to Tier 3 cities where the charging network is spreading rapidly, the enhanced incentives for electric cars (license plate availability, lane accessibility, and so on) will boost the growth of electric vehicles on the roads. Furthermore, there are regulations by the Chinese Government for international OEMs to sell a certain percentage of their fleet as electric cars in order to avoid enormous penalty fees, which will directly benefit the domestic vehicle OEMs.


Can you pinpoint what you see as the biggest challenge to EV market growth in Europe?

From my perspective, one of the biggest challenges to EV market share growth is overcoming and achieving customer acceptance of electric vehicles and their corresponding infrastructure.

Currently, only Tesla with its Model S and Model X has truly raised people’s eyebrows regarding electric cars. These cars demonstrate what electric vehicles are capable of and have been made completely available already. Even the infrastructure problem (charger stations) was considered by Tesla by just creating their own network. I really admire the comprehensiveness and sustainability of Tesla’s approach. But still, I know the current perception of electric cars overall is still not strong because people feel they would need to sacrifice value, power, mileage and attractiveness by driving an electric car. And if the industry, together with the European governments, cannot increase this attractiveness of electromobility by introducing more fascinating products, reasonable costs, comprehensive and easy accessibility and, finally, a reasonable charging infrastructure, then the customer will still prefer combustion engine cars. But honestly, I am convinced that the new electric cars soon to be revealed by several European OEMs along with the huge investments in charging infrastructure will make a noticeable impact.

And if additionally, as demonstrated in the new German ‘GroKo’ coalition paper sketch, there will be an even higher subsidy granted for electric car buyers and if the diesel ban for cities is approved by the German Federal Administrative Court, then the switch to electric car sales could rise even more strongly.


What do you see as the biggest disrupter to the car industry in the next decade?

Definitely electrification, the car-sharing movement and autonomous driving implementation. Unfortunately for the existing big OEM players, these trends come almost parallel and lead to a major adjustment period in consideration of their long-term organisational structures and ways of thinking.

The most important attributes of a vehicle – and especially a luxury vehicle – in the past were horsepower and driving characteristics, but now for the younger generations this seems to fade behind connectivity capabilities, user interface, assistance systems and some gradient of autonomous driving options. This comes along with their growing willingness to give up a personal vehicle for other options. This opens doors for many new mobility business types to enter the market and grow their market share, such as big data companies, existing car-sharing providers and even electric vacuum manufacturers alongside and with support from new wealthy entrepreneurs.

Another big threat for the existing vehicle OEMs is that if they cannot change and adapt fast enough, their business could turn in the direction of a B2B scenario instead of B2C, which would cause a huge consolidation wave among them.


What are you most looking forward to at The Battery Show 2018?

I am really looking forward to reviving my network with international and European OEMs, Tier 1 and other automotive supplier companies and exchange and compare thoughts and views. Because I am located in Beijing, China, my “insider” perspectives with other companies are somewhat limited and so is the personal face-to-face discussion availability.


Who would be your best all-time five dinner party guests and why?

I would like to participate in a dinner with Ferdinand Piech, Wolfgang Reitzle, Herbert Diess and Elon Musk.

First off, Ferdinand Piech and Wolfgang Reitzle were some of the most influential people in the combustion engine automotive world. Today, Herbert Diess and Elon Musk have a clear vision for the electromobility future and influence the field in such an outstanding manner. The theme of the dinner would be, ”What will mobility look like in 2040?”

Marcus Hafkemeyer will be speaking on the 'Introduction of BAIC - BJEV and the BJEV Battery Technology Roadmap' session on Tuesday 15 May, Track 1 of The Battery Show Conference.