Trend to electric forces automative industry to collaborate
In recent weeks, several tie-ups have been announced impacting the global hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) market:
- In mid-July, Bosch and Daimler announced plans to establish a 50:50 joint venture to develop electric motors for EVs.
- Ford and Toyota recently announced that they will collaborate as equal partners to develop a new hybrid system for light trucks and SUVs.
- GM and LG announced that they will jointly develop future electric vehicles, building on the relationship already developed through LG supplying battery cells for the Chevrolet Volt.
- Most recently, Volvo and Siemens AG have announced a joint program to develop electric drive technology, power electronics, and charging technology for use in Volvo’s C 30 electric car.
This trend to collaborate is key to the development of the EV industry.
Developing hybrid and electric vehicles is expensive, and isn’t without risk: are consumers going to buy them? Will governments and businesses roll out the necessary infrastructure to support them? In short, will vehicle manufacturers see a return on their investment?
Partnerships lessen the risk, and provide much needed ‘cross-pollination’ of technological development. Many of the technologies needed for hybrid and electric vehicles (battery design/management, electric motor control, vehicle charging) are highly specialised and have not traditionally been areas of expertise for the vehicle OEMs. The automotive industry will benefit by seeking external expertise and clearly the above companies have recognised this.
Not only does I expect to see more partnerships of this nature, but I would actively encourage them. They are essential for the successful future development of the hybrid and electric vehicle market.