GKN Powder Metallurgy Gets New CEO & Builds Its Magnet Business Signing Schaeffler as Key Customer in Automotive Electrification 

Jean-Marc Durbuis joins GKN Powder Metallurgy as new CEO 

Dowlais Group Plc, the recently established parent company of GKN Powder Metallurgy, has appointed Jean-Marc Durbuis as the new chief executive officer of GKN Powder Metallurgy.  He joined the company in March from Allnex, a supplier of resins and additives to the coating and inks industry where he was executive vice president of one of its global divisions with revenues of over €1 billion. Already a leading supplier of powder metal materials and sintered metal components, GKN PM lately has been expanding aggressively into magnet manufacturing to broaden its portfolio for the electric vehicle market. 

New volume magnet production plant starts up this year in Germany for GKN Powder Metallurgy, with plans to expand next into North America.

Last year, Dowlais demerged GKN Automotive and GKN Powder Metallurgy from Melrose Industries and launched GKN Hydrogen to create a new publicly held enterprise focused on electrification opportunities in the automotive industry including an intention to accelerate growth with a merger and acquisition strategy. Durbuis replaces longtime former CEO Diego Laurent who has stepped down from the role after 31 years with the company. The hydrogen unit specializes in metal hydride storage solutions. 

As earlier reported in Magnetics Magazine, the company recently announced its expansion into permanent magnets, planning to build production facilities in Europe and North America with a capacity of up to 4,000 tons annually. 

In October, it announced its first major customer for the new magnet production lines – Schaeffler AG, a motion technology company and top automotive supplier. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding for GKN PM to supply Schaeffler locally with permanent magnets. 

With multiple manufacturing plants for motion technologies worldwide and plans to absorb powertrain manufacturer Vitesco Technologies, Schaeffler AG of Germany is positioned to purchase a lot of magnets. 

The deal is seen as particularly significant given Schaeffler’s since-announced plans to establish a new automotive manufacturing plant in North America while also forging a merger of automotive top-tier powertrain supplier Vitesco Technologies into Schaeffler. Focused on e-mobility products, the new plant in Dover, Ohio was announced in February. Schaeffler currently has 15 plants in the Americas region and five research and development locations. The planned merger with Vitesco was announced in March and is expected to be completed by year-end. 
“We are delighted to partner with Schaeffler to jointly provide solutions to the challenges of supplying permanent magnets to the automotive and other industries,” said Diego Laurent, former CEO of GKN PM when the deal was announced. “This is a perfect match of two companies with a long-standing relationship and a strong commitment to sustainability and innovation. The development of permanent magnets for EVs is a logical step for GKN Powder Metallurgy.” 

Matthias Zink, CEO Automotive Technologies at Schaeffler, commented: “Schaeffler has key strengths in passenger car electrification, particularly in electric motors, which are integral components of all electric axles and hybrid modules. To ensure our successful growth in this segment especially in Europe and North America we aim to establish resilient, local, and sustainable supply chains for the relevant components like permanent magnets. This cooperation with GKN Powder Metallurgy is an important step towards this goal.” In February, Zink was re-appointed by the Schaeffler board to serve in his position another five years. 

For more info, see www.gknpm.com and www.schaeffler.com