TRAVERSE CITY – Changing powertrains are helping Cooper-Standard Automotive move up the supply chain. The U.S. company’s origins are in rubber seals, engine mounts and tubing, but it sees a future in complex thermal-management systems.

While suppliers such as Valeo SA and Visteon Corp. are well-established in moving heat around the vehicle, “the coolant system is graduating to a level that no one has known,” says Lyle Otremba, vice president-sales and engineering.

So Cooper-Standard believes it can compete evenly. The supplier emerged from bankruptcy protection in May after 10 months of reorganizing.

Because it delivers products directly to the vehicle assembly line, Cooper-Standard is a Tier 1 supplier for 80% of its components, with another 10% going to other Tier 1s for inclusion in modules.

But some products, such as rubber engine mounts, are not even quoted until prototype cars are running on test tracks. With thermal-management systems, Cooper-Standard is working upstream with its customers at the design stage on complex, higher-volume cooling systems.

For the Chevrolet Volt, the company will supply three control valves for its coolant system. As an extended-range electric vehicle, the heat of the battery and engine need to be managed independently.

For a high-volume hybrid project, which Otremba declines to name, Cooper-Standard will supply small electric water pumps.

“We will be the leading provider of high-efficiency, continuous-duty pumps in the world,” Otremba predicts. Some have been running for more than 30,000 hours in the laboratory.

The demand for improved fuel economy in mature markets is changing powertrains, with the onslaught of hybrids, downsized engines and battery-electric vehicles.

New propulsion systems bring new challenges even to some standard product lines. Cooper-Standard has developed multi-state engine mounts, for example, that have different damping characteristics at idle and when the engine is pulling.

This is important because downsized engines, cylinder deactivation, stop/start systems and electric motors all change the harmonic vibrations in a car. Next year, the first of its new engine mounts will go into production in Europe and North America, Otremba says.

Direct-injection gasoline engines will let Cooper-Standard capitalize on its experience working with exhaust-gas recirculation systems on diesels in Europe, where exhaust gases routed back into the air intake help control combustion temperatures.

The company has developed EGR cooling systems and has begun investigating ways to efficiently turn exhaust heat into something useful, such as electricity or propulsion.

On a simpler level, Cooper-Standard has integrated a pressure sensor from General Electric Co. into its quick-fit connector for a gasoline tank to assure the engine controller that an adequate flow of fuel is available for the high-pressure direct-injection fuel pump.

The supplier is demonstrating many of its future products on a Ford Escape Hybrid with sheet metal cut away to display normally unseen parts. The car has been touring auto maker plants and this week is parked under a tent at the Grand Traverse Resort hosting the CAR Management Briefing Seminars here.