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Innovation Means Nothing Without A Great Team Behind It: Valeo

Humberto Quintanar - Valeo
Site General Manager (Toluca)


Fernando Mares By Fernando Mares | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 08:51

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Q: How does Valeo embrace innovation in its daily operations and what are the company’s priorities in this regard?
A: Since its establishment in 1923, innovation has been at the core of Valeo's DNA. Valeo is globally recognized for its leading position in areas like electromobility, driver assistance, lighting, comfort lighting for cars and autonomous concepts in the automotive sector. Innovation is a fundamental aspect of Valeo's identity and plays a crucial role in its success in the automotive sector. 

Our priorities are clear. Decarbonization is a key topic for us, along with security, safety and providing comfortable vehicles to our clients. Additionally, we prioritize autonomous vehicles, driver assistance systems and advanced diagnostics for drivers. These will be our main areas of focus at Valeo for the next 10 to 15 years.

As an exemple, we are developing technology that allows cars to perform a comprehensive scan of the driver's body, including temperature, pulse and other relevant information. This data can be transmitted to the doctor you plan to visit, ensuring they are well-prepared when you arrive. We are working on the prototype at our development center in the Czech Republic and we are looking forward to releasing it in the next five years.  

In Mexico, our main focus is software development. Additionally, we are actively working on technology aimed at optimizing a car’s energy consumption, including the energy generated by the units themselves. For example, we want to use the energy produced by batteries for climate control within the vehicle. Another key area of focus is the development of software for driver assistance systems.

We have two development centers in Mexico, one in San Luis Potosi and a smaller technical center in Toluca, State of Mexico, which we inaugurated this year. The latter is primarily focused on designing new products and technologies, not only for the Mexican market but for global markets. 

Q: What are the main challenges to keeping innovation in Mexico? 
A: There are two main challenges we face. First, the shortage of skilled personnel is a significant issue. Furthermore, there is a need for better collaboration between universities and companies. Universities should consider the current technological landscape to update their engineering programs and better meet the industry's needs. This lack of alignment affects our competitiveness. 

It is also important to consider the environmental aspects, as innovation should also go in that direction. It is crucial for the industry to focus on reducing carbon emissions. Valeo has set a target for 2030 to make all products carbon emissions-free. This goal extends beyond products, to include optimizing energy usage across our 180 manufacturing plants worldwide. 

Q: How does a company like Valeo contribute to a more sustainable automotive industry? 
A: Our focus is on decarbonization but also on water use optimization. We are aiming to use as much treated water as possible at our plants, for example. Recycling is another crucial aspect we focus on. Our goal is to recycle all the components and materials we use, finding ways to reduce waste and reutilize resources. This includes recycling steel, plastic, resin and other materials, ensuring they are reused while maintaining high product quality. 

Big companies must lead in sustainability. Customers like GM, BMW and Volkswagen challenge us to achieve significant emissions reductions of 80-90% at our plants to maintain our business relationship. Through collaboration and agreements, we develop roadmaps for emission-aligned product development. This demonstrates Valeo's commitment to sustainability alongside OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. While progress varies, we align with their sustainability goals.

Q: Other industries are implementing new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). How is Valeo applying these developments in its operations? 
A: We are working with virtual reality (VR) at one of our 65 design centers in the Czech Republic. Through virtual driving, users can visually interact with simulations of car functionalities before mass production. Valeo takes pride in leading the way in designing cars with captivating experiences, considering factors like color, smell, lighting and overall ambiance. Virtual simulations enable us to explore and refine these elements. 

Q: What are Valeo’s objectives in the short and medium term? 
A: Our main short-term objective is to focus on the safety of our employees. Zero accidents and strict adherence to safety rules are crucial to us. We take concrete actions to ensure the safety of our workforce. In the long term, our goal is to maintain leadership in the automotive industry through continuous innovation and the development of new technologies. This extends beyond our headquarters in France, with innovation centers in various regions, including North America and Mexico. We value our collaboration with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers and, together, we aim to drive innovation and maintain our position as leaders in the automotive sector. 

Q: What factors have helped Valeo to build a 100-year legacy? 
A: On May 25, 2023, Valeo celebrated its 100th anniversary, which is a great milestone in our history. We are planning a worldwide celebration, including Mexico, of course. We are proud of the journey we have taken together and are excited about the next 100 years. The event will also give recognition and appreciation to our dedicated employees, who have contributed to our growth and success. It is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to our people and demonstrate that we are prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Our commitment to innovation is behind our legacy of success. Valeo, as an innovative French company, has always been at the forefront of technology advancements. We continuously collaborate with our customers to not only meet but exceed their expectations. In the automotive industry, Valeo stands as a leader alongside OEMs, contributing to the development of cutting-edge technologies and defining industry standards. The company remains proactive in leveraging these technologies to enhance our offerings and maintain our leadership position in the automotive industry. 

Photo by:   Mexico Business Publishing

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