Interview Ferit Küҫükay

The next transmission symposium is going to be really exciting.

Interview with Prof. Dr. Ferit Küҫükay, TU Braunschweig

Professor Küçükay is a co-initiator and  chairman of the advisory bord at the Transmission Symposium. We talked with him about the latest developments in the industry. The trend is clear – transmission development is moving more and more towards electrification.

CTI: Professor Küҫükay, 2016 was an exciting year for the automobile industry. It also marked an anniversary for the CTI Symposium, which was held for the fifteenth time. This year’s event could hardly have been bigger or better. How was it for you?

Ferit Küҫükay: I thought it was very positive too. It was our biggest event so far with more than 1350 participants and 135 exhibitors, and the broadest range of topics ever in eight parallel sessions and in the plenum. So yes, I’m very happy. In the first symposiums we only looked at transmissions, but for the last ten years we’ve included transmission electrification, which is made necessary by hybrid drives and by the electric drives we now have too.

I think the audience approves of the way electrification’s role has grown steadily at the event. Otherwise we wouldn’t have held the events in this form for ten years. Naturally the share for electrified transmissions is growing steadily, and the number of talks on the entire scope of electrified transmissions is growing too. The audience really likes that because it mirrors the fact that electric mobility is being pushed very hard in the automobile industry.

CTI: In the talks we heard on both days, it was clear that the industry’s emphasis now seems to be on electrified – and to an extent on electric – automobiles and trucks. That was very different in recent years, where the industry still seemed to be resisting the trend a little. Is this something that’s happening here on stage, but not yet in reality – or can we say this event is a reflection of real life?

Ferit Küҫükay: On the one hand it does reflect reality. On the other hand, symposiums like ours tend to present the new development trends, the new units and components. Not the established technologies, because conventional technologies are established already. So while we do report and discuss them, we naturally have more coverage on the new technologies that are part of electrification, which we’ve made a logical focus. We also have to focus on all the hybrid and electric drives. Many of those go beyond transmissions, so for the last ten years we’ve been steadily extending our symposium in that direction, and naturally, the audience approves of that.

CTI: Like every year, another highlight at your event was the podium discussion. This time you chose a slightly modified concept. What was that about?

Ferit Küҫükay: Yes, this year we put Young Experts up against established industry experts for a discussion on mobility and tomorrow’s drives. It was a very interesting constellation, and the statements were very interesting too.

CTI: Your exhibition, Transmission Expo, was bigger than ever this year. You’ve now managed to bring the entire bandwidth of companies – from OMS through suppliers to service providers in the field of drives – together. What feedback are you getting on that from participants? Because what you’re offering here is practically a trade fair.

Ferit Küҫükay: It’s true! This event, the way we do it, is the biggest trade fair for transmission technology – focussing on traditional transmissions, electrified transmissions and using transmission technology to implement hybrid drives and also electric drives. There’s a unique diversity in both the talks and among the suppliers, for example. That’s how it has developed in the light of growing transmission electrification, growing type diversity and growing transmission electrification. We have totally new players from the transmissions business, and naturally the people who make the e-machines and actuators you need for the growing electrification of transmissions are coming too. We have to do justice to all those factors in Transmission Expo. So it makes sense to have a wide range of variants in the talks and among the exhibitors. Because the two need to work hand-in-hand.

CTI: Another topic, and one that’s now a USP for the CTI Symposium, is the support you give young professionals. Young Drive Experts is your name for the category, and it’s now a tradition that the awards take place at your event. This year there was a new aspect, a new presentation format. The Young Experts gave their presentations in an innovative way, using the Pecha Kucha format. What did you think of that point on the program?

Ferit Küҫükay: Personally I thought it was great, and the audience really liked it too. The finalists had two minutes to present their highly complex topics in a simple way and show that their work really does deal with an important point. And they all succeeded! This time we got the audience involved too, with a decibel meter or ‘clap-o-meter’. So the entries were rated by how loud the applause was – the one with the loudest applause came first. I think it’s great that the audience got to make up its own mind and was involved in the decision-making.

CTI: Finally, what was your personal highlight during the two days? What was your biggest takeaway moment from this event?

Ferit Küҫükay: For me it was that on one hand we’re marching towards electrification, right up to forecasts that by 2025, as many as 1 in 4 vehicles will be highly electrified, meaning plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles … and that on the other hand, internal combustion engines will still be with us. And that in the near future we’ll still have large numbers of automobiles with ICEs. And also that even in 2030, a large percentage of all vehicles produced will still have combustion engines.

And what’s so special is that the complexity and diversity of drive configurations will increase at first, and will actually keep increasing until we reach the point where the majority of vehicles have all-electric drives. Complexity will not reduce until then. So in the foreseeable future we’ll see growing complexity and a wider range of variants. That’s one insight I’m taking away. Another highlight of electrical mobility is the way forecasts change and adapt. Some people now think it might happen sooner than we assumed even just five years ago. One driving factor is the international pressure on this issue, especially in China naturally, and we’ll need to take appropriate steps in Europe too. At the same time we’ll need to optimize conventional technology further still and put the appropriate technologies and activities in place there too.

CTI: So there’s every reason to look forward to 2017 and the 16th CTI Symposium?

Ferit Küҫükay: I’m looking forward to it already! I forgot to mention this but naturally, we’ll have the two topic circles ‘Automobile Connectivity’ and ‘Automated Driving’ there too. Tremendous progress is being made in both fields, so at our next symposium we’ll be examining them even more closely and integrating them more deeply. So in that respect we’ll be enhancing the symposium once again with these two topics – not just with electric mobility.