I recently had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion entitled “Insight, Innovation and Investment” sponsored by the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) – the trade association promoting battery, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell electric drive technologies and infrastructure. EDTA conducts public policy advocacy, provides education and awareness, and enables industry networking and collaboration. Membership is comprised of vehicle and equipment manufacturers, energy companies, technology developers, component suppliers, government agencies and others. I was joined by Charlie Yankitis, Director, Business Development & Electric Vehicle Solutions for Bosch; Lang Reynolds, Manager, Electric Transportation for Duke Energy; and Sophie Shulman, Manager, Charging Infrastructure Partnerships for Electrify America on this timely panel.
Although the panel discussion covered a variety of topics, three key themes are worth sharing. The themes relate to market adoption, expected challenges and legislative issues.
Q: Market opportunities: So, how big is the electric drive market? Is this real or just a lot of hype? How are companies like LORD preparing?
A: The market is really at an inflection point and the expectation is that the growth rate projected by many analysts and OEMs could very well be realized soon. If you evaluate what the industry is currently doing, especially OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, you will see massive amounts of financial investment in preparation for market adoption. A lot is happening from a global policy standpoint as well.
At LORD, we believe that one of the key factors in adoption of electronic vehicles is improved thermal management solutions, especially reducing heat in battery packs. To this end, we have been working diligently for several years on broadening our thermal management portfolio so we can respond to OEMs on a global basis. We also have a range of adhesives that help in battery pack assembly that will reduce the need for welding and rivets and other mechanical fixturing. Further, since global solutions are needed, LORD continues to expand our manufacturing footprint to ensure we are responsive to customer needs.
Q: If the EV market does take off, are there going to be significant challenges on the materials and suppliers? Can the value chain keep pace?
A: While the market is getting ready to grow, leading to tremendous opportunities throughout the supply chain, there will be challenges. If you look at the battery cell itself, there will be challenges with respect to the critical materials used. For example, Cobalt may be sourced from Africa (which accounts for almost 50 percent of the supply) could be a concern due to labor practices in the mining industry there. There are also shortage concerns related to Lithium and many major OEMs are already trying to secure a long-term supply. One way to help mitigate the shortage, especially Cobalt, is through recycling. LORD has materials to help make the process easier through our disassembly solutions.
Q: What do US legislators needs to know about this market and how are they responding?
A: The EDTA works hard on behalf of its members to work with legislators and help them prepare for this market shift in the United States. Many other countries around the world have already taken steps to create aggressive policies to support this market. For example, many countries in the EU and India have already banned internal combustion engines. China is expected to make the same announcement soon. We need to be cognizant of what other countries are doing from a legislative and policy standpoint so we don’t fall behind. Consider Norway: more than half the new vehicles sold in the country are electric! The result of these policies speak for themselves.
LORD is available to help you respond to the electrification market. Please contact us today!