“We’re setting our sights on autonomous cars,” says Marc Vrecko, director of comfort and driving assistance systems at Valeo. At the 2015 CES in early January, it seemed as though they had almost achieved their goal with the Cruise4U. Valeo has taken its autonomous Golf model on many spins around Las Vegas’ casinos. It can change lanes and slow down with-out any driver intervention. Valeo is a sensor manufacturer, especially of video cameras since acquiring the Irish start-up Connaught Electronics in 2007. Guillaume Devauchelle, director of innovation, encouraged the company to go down the digital path. Its approach is twofold. Valeo firstly relies on its in-house expertise, especially on its technology (sensors, video cameras, speed cameras). “Car electronics have not been changed on our autonomous Cruise4U. We just added a video and speed camera, which is worth about 200 Euros,” explains Devauchelle. This solution also helps us control costs. And if management does not believe in a project, Devauchelle takes the money from his department’s budget to make it work and convince them! This happened with InBlue, a system to open cars via smartphones, which hit the headlines at the World Auto Show in Paris in October. Since then, Valeo has used the technology for a connected watch, which was presented at the CES and was a great hit with the media.
This is one of Valeo’s digital technology strengths. “Its InBlue system was not groundbreaking, since we’d already launched the same system,” states a rival automobile components manufacturer. “But they were the only thing anyone was talking about at the World Auto Show, they know how to cause a stir.” Internal communication is also very efficient between the four divisional teams. “Digitalization caused some organizational problems. The silo mentality had to be broken, but Valeo has already achieved this,” says Guillaume?Crunelle, who is in charge of Deloitte’s car sector. “Component manufacturers are flexible?about integrating new work practices because they regard end customers rather than automobile manufacturers as their customers.” Valeo’s other asset is its ability to draw on ideas from outside the company. In 2014, Valeo opened a technology watch center in?Palo Alto, California. It also organizes an annual innovation competition for students with a ‘car of the future’ theme.