With the advent of electric cars, the needs of the auto industry for components are shifting. Savvy manufacturers may be able to capitalize on these changes to grow business.
Predictions about the electric vehicle (EV) market vary greatly. Industry experts suggest that the most likely scenario is that high prices will delay purchases and lead to fairly slow market growth. This gives companies in the automotive industry some time to ramp up production - although ultimately, they will need to offer products that fit the EV supply chain or risk losing preferred supplier status.
The first and most obvious need is for powerful lithium-ion batteries that can be manufactured at lower cost in larger volume. The rush to this niche includes Tier 1 suppliers and original equipment manufacturers. In addition, manufacturers of electronic controllers, connectors and wiring will need to offer new versions of their products that interface with new electrical and electronic systems.
Other systems and accessories will need to change radically. An internal combustion engine produces waste energy that drives everything from the brakes and power-steering systems to the windshield wipers and HVAC system. In contrast, the frugal battery drive train will have a hard time coping with the large and fluctuating power demand of these components. This creates the need for accessories that use significantly less power. LED illumination is an example of such a system that's already in use.
The greater mass of a vehicle carrying heavy batteries will require stronger springs and shock absorbers, as well as the ability to design for and process advanced metal and composite materials. Weight will continue to be a factor when powering vehicles with limited energy sources.
Another area for innovation is in the charging infrastructure required for everyday use of an EV.
Companies looking for new markets should keep an eye on the players in this field, as well as on evolving compatibility standards, to identify growth opportunities.
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