The Brno-based Garrett facility is the largest of the company’s five R&D centers in the world. “Brno’s center is unique as we are completely independent – from the initial idea to the prototype. Things move fast here,” said Site Managing Director Libor Urbanec at a presentation of the company’s latest technological developments on Tuesday. Photo credit: Casadei Graphics.
Brno, Jun 6 (BD) – “Brno has a global responsibility. We are the official supplier of the Scuderia Ferrari team. You can imagine that this is a sign of the importance of Brno’s R&D.” Urbanec listed a few of the successes of Brno’s Garrett research center, which focuses on the development and testing of turbochargers for gasoline-fuelled cars. At a press conference on Tuesday, in the presence of representatives of Brno University of Technology and CzechInvest, the Investment Agency of the Czech Republic, Urbanec and Garrett’s Chief Technology Officer Craig Balis presented an E-Turbo demonstration and testing vehicle, a racing car from Garrett’s Formula 1 partnership with Scuderia Ferrari, and local university student programs.
The company focuses on increasing the efficiency of the combustion process, with regard to its environmental impact. “The Garrett brand has been known for nearly 65 years for its differentiated technology that helps automakers improve powertrain performance and vehicle drivability, with the additional benefit of enabling engine downsizing to improve fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions,” explained Balis.
A turbocharger is one of the ways to improve the engine’s performance. In layman’s terms, a turbocharger is a set of fans that utilize waste exhaust power from the back of an engine to push more air into the front. According to Balis, 76% of hybrid powertrains and 100% of hydrogen fuel cell powertrains will be turbocharged by 2025. New “Race to Road” technology presented on Tuesday will, for example, help car engines to comply with Euro 6 and Euro 7 emission standards.
In 2008, Garrett made significant investments in state-of-the-art technology in Brno, improving their laboratory and testing capabilities. Garrett employees from the Czech Republic have been behind dozens of recognized patents and innovative solutions for boosting technology supporting both gasoline and diesel engines. The centre in Brno employs more than 350 people of 18 nationalities. 85% of them have the academic title of an engineer or a PhD, half of them from Brno universities. Nearly 40% of the student engineers at Garrett’s R&D Brno centre are women. “I think we employ all women that studied in technical fields in Brno,” joked Urbanec.
According to Balis, by 2030 all vehicles will be connected with external services, highlighting the importance of software security. Reflecting the current vigorous debate about autonomous vehicles, Balis predicts that slightly over 40% of vehicles will have 2nd or 3rd level autonomy in 2030 (partial automation and conditional automation; for example, cars will match their speed to the traffic around them and follow curves in the road in ideal conditions); currently this is true of only about 10% of cars. Complete autonomy (levels 4 and 5) is expected to be available for around 5% of cars in 2030.
Lukáš Prskavec, a representative of CzechInvest and the Ministry of Industry, explained that 10% of the Czech GDP is produced by the automobile industry, which also employs 170,000 people. At the same Tuesday press conference, Prskavec announced plans to set up a Mobility Innovation Hub that will bring together international corporations, the state, regions, and startups. The hub will be created as a part of an industrial strategy entitled “Czech Republic: The Country For The Future”.
Garrett has been a leader in turbocharger technology for internal combustion engines for over 65 years. The company’s portfolio includes turbocharging, electric boosting, and automotive software solutions. Garrett, formerly Honeywell Transportation Systems, became an independent, publicly-traded company in October 2018, following Honeywell’s successful spin-out of the business which pioneered automotive turbocharging in the 1950s. The company currently supplies around 40 global car producers with 13 well-positioned manufacturing plants and five research and development centers to meet the worldwide demand. Garrett employs more than 7,500 people including 1,200 engineers contributing to 1,400 issued or pending patents. Last year, Garrett’s revenues were approximately $3.4 billion.