ATTI speaks to Mark Grozde, Ford’s supervisor for electrified powertrain systems, powersplit applications, about all things powertrain engineering
What career did you want when you were growing up?
Early on, I dreamed of being an architect and would marvel at the aesthetic and creativity of Frank Lloyd Wright. I have always had a fascination with how things work and how they are made, so I was constantly taking things apart and putting them back together – sometimes unsuccessfully. Growing up in the Metro Detroit area – the heart of the US automotive industry – the influence of vehicles was everywhere I looked. At an early age, I really didn’t think that I would end up in a career in automotive engineering, but it was a natural progression.
What was your career path to where you are now?
After graduating from high school, I worked as a machinist. But I didn’t see myself doing that particularly long term, which motivated me to attend college and earn a mechanical engineering degree. I started work at Ford in engine manufacturing, as a process engineer at the historic Ford Rouge complex. My next assignment was in powertrain planning, then I moved on to cross-vehicle-line fuel economy technology. After six years there, an opportunity arose to join a newly formed fuel economy systems integration team, where I spent more than a decade working on global vehicle programs. Just as I was wanting a new challenge, a role in electrified powertrain systems became available, and for the past six years I have put all of my experience in planning, vehicle attributes and engineering to good use. Every day is both a challenge and an adventure.
If you had to choose one career highlight, what would it be?
Being a part of the 2015 Mustang team was memorable. It was the very first Mustang to be marketed and sold globally by Ford. I was the global attribute leader in vehicle engineering for fuel economy, performance feel and weight systems engineering, from planning to production. There is no doubt that the Mustang is a global icon, and the team’s passion and pride were strong.
Do legislators help or hinder your work?
It can go both ways and is dependent upon what they are trying to legislate and how they approach the problem. For example, well-written legislation that both addresses environmental issues and allows scientists and engineers to develop new solutions unconstrained and in a reasonable time window drives what I do every day.
What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
One of the best parts of my job is seeing the work we do in the hands of customers, and reading the press reviews and seeing the vehicle on the road is very rewarding, knowing I was a part of the team that made
it a reality. Conversely, there are things I work on, and spend time on, that don’t make it to production.
What was your first car?
My first car was a 1968 American Motors Javelin. It had manual steering, brakes and windows, no air-conditioning, but an auto transmission. I drove that car until it was beyond repair.
What do you drive now?
A Ford Flex, but an Escape Hybrid is next.
What would be your dream powertrain to develop?
I’m currently working on developing that system now!
What do you think will power a typical family vehicle in 2040?
I expect battery-electric will be the dominant powertrain. As a company, we are making huge investments in EV technologies and battery manufacturing as we rapidly expand our electric vehicle line-up.
Are there any other OEMs that you have particular respect for?
The industry as a whole is experiencing so much innovation and there are many companies, both large and small, that are finding innovative solutions that can benefit the customers.
What is the biggest challenge for Ford now?
In my view, it’s being able to transform ourselves extremely quickly. We have a great foundation here at Ford that we are building on to achieve our goals, but there are many new players in the automotive industry that are not to be dismissed.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This Q&A was first published in Engine & Powertrain Technology International March 2022 – one of the world’s biggest magazines dedicated to powertrain technology and implementation. Supported by the world’s leading powertrain developers and manufacturers, the magazine highlights the latest trends, developments and technological advancements in tire manufacturing and engineering.