MEET THE SIGMA POWERTRAIN TEAM
People | Process | Product
With over 100 combined years of experience in the automotive engineering industry, our core team of engineers, programmers, and technical personnel at Sigma Powertrain hold over 50 patents in the field of electric powertrains.
Our Livonia, Michigan-based team develops state-of-the-art electric transmission and electric powertrain technology for the commercial duty electric powertrain and recreational truck industry.
The EMAX and Mid-Series products represent the culmination of a long career of successfully delivered projects.
CEO & President
John Kimes is an inventor, product development executive, entrepreneur, and business operator with 30 years of global product development and engineering experience in the areas of vehicle powertrain and electrification. John holds 45 U.S. patents related to the transmission and powertrain systems design.
He began his career at General Motors Corporation (GM) serving in various product engineering roles at the General Motors Hydra-Matic transmission division. During his 11-year tenure at GM, Mr. Kimes worked in transmission product engineering, powertrain systems testing, and new automatic transmission architecture development. While at GM, John Kimes was the lead product development engineer for the 4L80E and 4L65E automatic transmissions for large pickup trucks and heavy-duty commercial vehicle applications. These products have been used in GMC, Chevrolet, and Hummer branded vehicles, including Chevrolet Avalanche and Chevrolet Tahoe. In 2000, Mr. Kimes joined Ford Motor Company’s transmission division, where he worked for seven (7) years. While at Ford, he was instrumental in design & release and program management of new generations of Ford’s 4-, 5-, and 6-speed automatic transmissions and value engineering activities to reduce material costs. In 2002, John invented and began integration of his mechanical rocker clutch systems, replacing traditional one-way clutches, that delivered approximately $10 cost saving per transmission, generating $150M in cost savings across the entire line-up of Ford automatic transmissions. Ford still currently produces subsystems that were developed by John back then. In 2004, he received Ford Technical Excellence Award for his contributions. Between 2007 and 2016, he worked at Means Industries, leading development and commercializing of his technological inventions in transmission mechatronics, electromechanical diodes, and powertrain electrification. While at Means Industries, John invented, designed, and built the all-electric Sync Shift Transmission, a predecessor to the MID and EMAX products. In 2016, Mr. Kimes founded Sigma Powertrain and perfected the powertrain technology used in the MID and EMAX products. He then secured $5.0M seed funding from angel investors to develop and validate the two (2) electric transmissions for commercial vehicle applications. Over the past five (5) years, together with his highly experienced engineering team, John also designed the innovative SPT500 electric motor, the 3-In-1 Module, ByPass Clutch, and other transmission-related products for both conventional and electric powertrain applications.
John Kimes received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with Honors from the Kettering University. Prior to completing his engineering degree, Mr. Kimes served in the U.S. Army for four (4) years. He also spent a year at the Ohio State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering. Mr. Kimes is also a certified Green Belt. He frequently participates in forums, conferences, and trade shows related to the electric powertrain technologies and has authored numerous white papers and magazine articles related to the vehicle electrification and his novel electric powertrain solutions.
Chief Financial Officer
Alex Kotlyar is a finance executive with 25 years of global financial and general management experience as an operator and an advisor to senior corporate executives, banks, hedge funds, and private equity investors. He began his career at Ford Motor Company in 1995 serving in various operating roles in the U.S., Russia, Germany, and Mexico. During his tenure at Ford, he worked in powertrain product engineering, vehicle testing, manufacturing, information technology, marketing, finance, product planning, procurement, and corporate turnaround management. In 2001, he was part of the team that started Ford of Russia and played an active role in starting up a vehicle assembly plant near St. Petersburg, Russia, spearheading establishment of alliances with Russian and global automotive suppliers and supporting launch of the Ford Focus for the Russian market. After leaving Ford, Alex spent 14 years in the financial services industry in New York.
He began his career on Wall Street at Jefferies & Co., the largest middle market investment bank, where he focused on capital raising, financial restructuring, and M&A for automotive, building products, and aluminum manufacturing sectors. During the 2008 financial crisis, he transitioned to the restructuring and turnaround industry, working at Zolfo Cooper LLP, Huron Consulting Group, and Alvarez & Marsal restructuring firms in New York. As a restructuring advisor for 11 years, he advised CEOs, CFOs, and financial sponsors, including Carlyle Group, Cerberus Capital Management, Centerbridge Partners, and Highland Capital, on distressed M&A transactions as well as on financial and operational restructurings of automotive, building products, chemicals, healthcare, consumer products, and media businesses. In 2008-09, Alex was instrumental in the restructuring and turnaround of Metaldyne Performance Group, a $2.8B powertrain components manufacturer. In 2013, he partook in the rescue of Fisker Automotive, an electric vehicle startup backed by $1.4B in venture capital and U.S. Department of Energy financing. In his most recent role at ORIX USA, a $400B AUM Japanese-based asset management and private equity firm, Alex was an Operating Partner working with CEOs and CFOs of middle market industrial services companies on financial management, operational improvement, and merger integration initiatives.
Alex Kotlyar received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with Honors, M.S. in Industrial & Operations Engineering with High Honors from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where he was also a Fellow at the Tauber Institute for Global Operations. He completed his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business with concentrations in finance, accounting, and entrepreneurship. Alex is also an AIRA Certified Insolvency & Restructuring Advisor and FINRA Series 7 and Series 63 certified.
David Simonelli is a corporate and intellectual property (IP) attorney specializing in managing corporations’ IP including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. He has extensive experience working with corporate and entrepreneurial inventors, preparing and prosecuting patent applications, clearance and infringement opinions. He is also skilled at negotiating technology license agreements, IP assignments and settlements, and corporate litigation matters. Mr. Simonelli has been instrumental in protecting Sigma Powertrain’s portfolio of IP, structuring contracts and agreements.
Mr. Simonelli began his career in 1986 at the National Security Agency as an electro-optics research engineer. He transitioned to practice intellectual property and corporate law in 1988 after completing his Juris Doctor studies. His legal career between 1988 and 2015 includes tenure at several law firms in Southeast Michigan, including Reising Ethington P.C., Bliss McGlynn P.C., and Clark Hill, PLC. In 2003, Mr. Simonelli was a delegate at the United Nations (UN) presenting a white paper at the World Summit of the Information Society in Geneva, Switzerland on the policy the UN should take with respect to protecting intellectual property rights in third-world countries. In 2007, David became a Partner and, in 2015, became a Chair of the Marketing Committee at Reising Ethington P.C. Since 2016, Mr. Simonelli established his own legal practice, Simonelli IP, PLLC, to help corporations of various sizes with intellectual property management and corporate litigation matters. His passion is helping small companies and start-ups navigate issues related to patents. He joined Sigma Powertrain team in August 2016 to protect the IP created by the Sigma Powertrain’s engineering team in the process of creating and developing the MID and EMAX electric transmissions as well other future products.
David Simonelli received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. David is a member of the State Bar of Michigan. He frequently participates in legal forums, panels, workshops, and intellectual property conferences and has authored numerous legal articles and white papers related to practicing intellectual property law in such publications as the Michigan Bar Journal and IP Today. David has been named Top Lawyer in the dBusiness Magazine in 2016 and 2019.
Vice President, Operations
David Sutherland is a corporate executive and an entrepreneur with 40 years of professional experience in product engineering, powertrain systems manufacturing, and program management. Mr. Sutherland is a results-oriented, customer-focused executive and team leader of complex, high-volume powertrain programs, with a proven ability of managing people and effective processes to deliver quality products.
He began his career at Hayes Albion Corporation in the brake system division as a Product Engineer responsible for design, release, manufacturing, and marketing of the company’s braking systems products. Between 1977 and 1988, Mr. Sutherland worked at the American Motors Corporation (AMC), namely at the company’s Proving Ground and Jeep Truck Engineering facilities, which was later acquired by the Chrysler Corporation in 1987. While at American Motors, David served in various capacities, including as the Engineering Program Manager for facilities and testing operations. In this capacity, he focused on vehicle emissions testing activities for annual emission compliance certification. The AMC benefitted from David’s leadership in developing a highly successful corporate-wide road load testing protocol, which was instrumental to the AMC’s continued marketplace position. He also spearheaded an effort to realize $75M cost avoidance through an eight (8) vehicle quality and durability test fleet. In his next opportunity at Chrysler as a Program Manager, David oversaw diesel powertrain programs for the $1.3B annual Jeep & Dodge Ram diesel engine platforms, involving five (5) vehicle platforms produced at four (4) vehicle assembly and one (1) engine plant. Mr. Sutherland directed implementation and continuous operational improvements, delivering over 16% (approximately $30M) in warranty cost savings, during growing annual production and engineering complexity of the vehicle programs to meet the applicable emission requirements. This program had experienced significant growth from initial launch of 1,500 units to more than 100K units yearly at the time of his retirement.
In addition to his work at Chrysler, Mr. Sutherland developed, patented, manufactured, and successfully marketed an impact attachment for drill motors through major retailers such as Sears, Roebuck & Co. He sold his profitable business to Vermont American, a manufacturer of power tool accessories and a division of Robert Bosch Tool Corporation. He also founded Capstone Builders, a residential and commercial building general contractor, where he led construction of 23 high-end custom homes, a nine-acre site condo complex, and three (3) $10M commercial buildouts over a four-year period. In 2016, Mr. Sutherland joined Sigma Powertrain as a General Manager where he spearheads establishment of the Sigma’s engineering & development operations, installation of critical testing equipment, procurement activities, and validation of the MID and EMAX electric transmission products.
David Sutherland received a B.S. in Automotive Engineering & Business from the Western Michigan University. He is a Board Member of the Oxford Kids Foundation, which offers financial assistance to local families with children who have traumatic brain injuries and other life-threatening illnesses. David is also very active in his local community in leading out prop/set fabrication and stage operations activities at the Northridge, which is a mega Church in Plymouth, Michigan.
Vice President, Marketing & IT
William Crider is a corporate information technology (IT) executive with over 20 years of expertise in customer-focused enterprise IT infrastructure installation, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system integration, IT system architecture design, customized client solutions development, document management systems, and related marketing and sales activities. Mr. Crider has been instrumental in establishing Sigma Powertrain’s IT infrastructure and selection of an ERP system to scale up and grow.
Mr. Crider’s career includes helping organizations move to cloud-based architectures, developing enterprise-level software projects, and building systems to improve collaboration and business process automation. His information technology career began in 2000 and includes tenures at several technology firms in Southeast Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia. Between 2000 and 2004, he was a Developer at United Audit Systems, Inc. In 2005, he became a Manager at Sogeti serving as an architect, developer, and system administrator and then re-joined the firm after a two-year tenure at Ascendum Solutions. In 2014, William re-joined Ascendum Solutions as a Director to develop and market commercial software and IT services to corporate clients, servicing Microsoft-based IT platforms. Between 2014 and 2019 at Ascendum Solutions, he managed a team of consultants, sales pipeline, technical sales initiatives, and proposal writing. Most recently, Mr. Crider has been a Director at C3 Integrated Solutions in Virginia advising companies on IT governance, integrating Microsoft products to enhance corporate IT infrastructure, and conducting remote and on-site training sessions for implemented IT solutions. At Sigma, he spearheads marketing and business development activities.
William Crider received a B.S. in Criminal Justice & Russian from the University of Cincinnati and MBA in Finance & Accounting from the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. He has also completed international exchange study programs in Ukraine and Russia and enjoys international travel. Mr. Crider holds several IT licenses and certifications related to Microsoft products. He is an author of articles and white papers as well as a frequent speaker at IT-related events. His recent research and consulting work focuses on digital transformation projects using IoT, voice, and AR technologies.
Vice President, Product Design
Philip Woodley is a senior design engineer and an innovator with over 20 years of automotive and commercial vehicle experience. His expertise is in powertrain component and systems design, transmission and driveline engineering, and vehicle electrification. Mr. Woodley has broad experience in custom mechanical systems design and integration for global OEMs such as Caterpillar, Tier I automotive suppliers, and early-stage powertrain technology startups. His career focus has been on design for manufacturability and implementation of cost-conscious product designs through collaboration with product and manufacturing engineers, technicians, and procurement specialists.
Mr. Woodley began his career in 2001 at Tri-C Company, a middle-market tool maker and manufacturing services company in Illinois, as a manufacturing engineer. There, he specialized in tooling, fixture, and mechanical design, manufacturing process design and evaluation, project management, and research for new material applications, primarily for Caterpillar’s off-highway vehicle applications. In 2008, Phil joined Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies (HEVT), an early-stage technology startup specializing in design and development of hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle controllers, drive trains, and powertrain conversions. At HEVT, he managed all aspects of mechanical design and prototyping from design concept, computer-aided design, development and validation, manufacturing, installation, and testing of proprietary electro-mechanical components and systems for hybrid powertrains. Since 2009, Mr. Woodley specialized in research, design, and development of conventional internal combustion engine and electrified propulsion systems, including electric motors and multi-ratio transmissions, for Means Industries and in academia at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. During his tenure at Means Industries, Phil co-led design and development of a three-speed all-electric Sync Shift Transmission (SST), a predecessor to the MID and EMAX products, along with John Kimes. He also contributed to the evolution of the electromechanical rocker clutch technology invented by John and commercialized by Means Industries. Mr. Woodley joined Sigma Powertrain at its inception in 2016 to lead development of electro-mechanical components and systems for the all-electric MID and EMAX transmissions and SPT500 electric motor. He is very skilled in application of computer-aided engineering tools for rapid design and prototyping. Phil is now actively involved in the development of future planned Sigma Powertrain products, including the EMAXle 3-speed e-Axle and SPT500 electric motor.
Philip Woodley received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. His passion is development of sustainable technologies and manufacturing methods with a specific focus on transportation and logistics applications. He enjoys spending time in Chicago with his family and friends.
Vice President, Software
Daniel Knieper is an engineering executive and entrepreneur with over 20 years of global automotive experience and expertise in powertrain software development, powertrain controls architecture, electronic braking systems, test engineering, and vehicle electrification. He has served in numerous international program management and implementation roles for automotive programs, leading international cross-functional teams of engineers, testers, technicians, and other stakeholders.
Between 2000 and 2020, Daniel worked at Continental AG, a global $37.7B Tier I automotive supplier of automotive systems, including braking and advanced driver assistance systems both in the U.S. and Germany with increasing responsibilities. In 2000, he began his career as a test engineer and consequently as a design engineer for electronic braking systems responsible for development of test procedures, system failure and warranty analysis, and test program management. In 2006, Mr. Knieper transitioned to software engineering for vehicles’ electronic driver assistance applications, where he focused on software design, implementation, and validation and eventually became a Program Manager. In this role, he led engineering teams in the U.S., Germany, Mexico, India, and Romania, and included a two-year assignment in Germany. In 2016, Dan became a Systems Manager for Continental’s Engineering Services division. In this role, he steered mechanics, electronics, test, and systems engineering teams in U.S., Mexico, and Germany to deliver multiple development programs, interfacing with domestic and international customers and managing engineering budgets and program milestones. In parallel to his tenure at Continental AG, Dan Knieper co-founded in 2007 Customized Controls LLC, an engineering and development services startup business, focused on software development for powertrain controls of electric transmissions. In 2020, he joined Sigma Powertrain as a Software Manager to lead the software and controls development efforts for MID and EMAX transmissions. At Sigma, he invented several proprietary algorithms and established PC simulators for the electric powertrain systems to significantly improve the development process. These inventions contributed to Sigma’s intellectual property portfolio and were instrumental to achieving superior system performance characteristics of the MID and EMAX products.
Daniel Knieper received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering with Honors from Michigan Technological University. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and international travel.
Head of Controls
Scott Russell is a senior engineer with over 40 years of global automotive experience and expertise in powertrain software development, powertrain controls architecture, transmission and driveline engineering, anti-lock braking systems engineering, power steering systems development, test engineering, manufacturing, and vehicle electrification. He has worked in both U.S. and Germany leading technical projects, development and manufacturing programs, and research initiatives.
Mr. Russell began his career at Allison Transmission in 1980 as a co-op student and completed multiple rotational assignments in product engineering, manufacturing, and test engineering over the course of five (5) years. In 1986, after earning his M.S. at Stanford on a GM fellowship, Scott transitioned to General Motors (GM) Tech Center, where he focused on engine and powertrain systems validation and testing. In 1987, Mr. Russell moved to General Motors’ Delco Electronics division in Milwaukee, where he spent six (6) years, as a manufacturing engineer to work on production integration of Detroit Diesel’s diesel engine controllers and related powertrain systems as well as avionics projects. In 1993, Scott transitioned to GM Proving Grounds and focused on software development and calibration for anti-lock braking systems. He then spent 1998-1999 still with Delco Electronics embedded at Delco Saginaw Steering Gear to develop software for electric power steering systems. Between 2000 and 2020, Mr. Russell worked at Continental AG, a global $37.7B Tier I automotive supplier of braking, steering, and powertrain systems. While at Continental, Scott led multiple technical projects, including software development, in the areas of vehicle traction control systems, electronic stability control systems, and integrated park brakes. At Continental, he supervised and managed teams of design & release engineers to deliver multiple innovative programs for customers in the U.S. and Japan. He also spent several months living and working in Germany. Mr. Russell joined Sigma Powertrain on part-time basis at its inception in 2016 to lead development of controls for the electric MID and EMAX transmissions. He then joined Sigma Powertrain on full-time basis in 2020 to focus on developing software and controls. Prior to Sigma Powertrain, he worked with John Kimes on part time basis since 2008.
Scott Russell received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from General Motors Institute, now Kettering University, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Marquette University. During his tenure at GM, he was selected into the elite GM Fellowship Program to pursue his studies at Stanford. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family in a variety of activities, including board gaming, disc golf, and bike riding.
Head of Systems & Vehicle Integration
Bill Davis is an engineer with over eight (8) years of automotive expertise in powertrain software development, powertrain controls calibration, anti-lock braking systems engineering, autonomous driving systems, and vehicle testing. He has been leading technical projects, development, and integration programs for multiple vehicle platforms of Detroit’s Big Three automotive OEMs.
Mr. Davis began his career at Continental AG, a global $37.7B Tier I automotive supplier of braking, steering, and powertrain systems. While at Continental, William led multiple technical projects, including software development, in the areas of vehicle autonomous systems, electric braking systems, and electric drive train systems. At Continental, Mr. Davis gained extensive experience working in and leading small cross-functional engineering teams to identify design issues, perform root cause analysis, and develop solutions for complex electromechanical systems for in-production, pre-production, and technology demonstration vehicles. He is skilled in project management and possesses strong software development skills, delivering large-scale projects in time-sensitive environments. Bill joined Sigma Powertrain on part-time basis in April 2021 and then on full-time basis in November 2021 to co-lead development of software and calibration strategies for the electric MID and EMAX transmissions.
Bill Davis received a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with High Honors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In his free time, he enjoys race car driving and serves as a race car driving instructor at several race car driving schools around the U.S. He is also a member of the Sports Car Club of America, where he won Solo National Championship between 2014 and 2021.
Director, Product Design
Srinivas (Sri) Arcota is a senior design engineer and innovator with over 29 years of automotive as well as military and defense experience. His expertise is in powertrain component and systems design, transmission components, power steering systems, missile systems engineering, and vehicle electrification technologies. Sri has broad international technical experience in the U.S. and India, applying computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools to design, develop, and validate product and manufacturing system designs for global automotive OEMs and Tier I suppliers. He also has three (3) patents for development of novel CAE tools for mechanical design and structural analysis.
Mr. Arcota started his career in 1993 at Bharat Dynamics Ltd. in Hyderabad, India as a project manager where he focused on manufacturing tooling design for components and sub-systems of missiles for six (6) years. He then transitioned to Satyam Venture Engineering Services (Satven), a subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra $10.0B global engineering and manufacturing conglomerate, where he rendered engineering services to Ford Motor Company, Dana Inc., Collins & Aikman, and Webasto SE for nine (9) years. While at Satyam in Hyderabad India, Sri led component and system design projects for automatic transmissions, engines, heating and ventilation systems, and power steering systems for Ford GT, Ford F-250/350/450 series trucks, and Ford Mustang programs. In 2008, Sri moved to the United States and focused on design and development of components and modules for Ford’s automatic transmissions used in conventional and hybrid vehicle applications. He possesses significant experience leading large-scale engineering projects from start to finish, steering cross-functional engineering teams. Sri Arcota has been involved in delivering many time-sensitive development and value engineering programs throughout his engineering career. He joined Sigma Powertrain in December 2021 to lead CAE development and validation efforts for Sigma’s current and future products.
Sri Arcota received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from K.L College of Engineering in Guntur, India and M.S. in Tool Design from the Central Institute of Tool Design in Hyderabad, India. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family and friends both in the U.S. and India.