At AirBoss of America, our success depends on everything from financial performance to innovation and corporate responsibility. This keeps our rubber compound specialists searching for new, exciting opportunities, like making automotive components for electric vehicles where we can apply both traditional and cutting-edge techniques and technologies.
AirBoss recognizes both the opportunities and challenges of manufacturing for the emerging electric vehicle (EV) sector.
A 2019 report from Clean Energy Canada, in partnership with Navius research, predicted hybrid and electric vehicle GDP would reach $24.3 billion by 2030. The same report projected nearly half of the vehicles sold in Canada by 2030 would be electric if trends continued.
Consumer demand coupled with social responsibility prospects have positioned electric vehicles to drive local and global economies. The industry serves as a cornerstone upon which companies like AirBoss can build authentic goodwill and contribute lasting environmental impacts.
If we can improve the quality of life in communities and countries we serve while at the same time provide high-quality rubber solutions to innovative industries, we’re going to find ways to do so. Looking forward, sales growth, as well as jobs surrounding electric vehicle production and component manufacturing, appears promising.
That’s why AirBoss is partnering with innovative companies within the EV market to help expand technology capabilities and improve large-scale manufacturing capabilities.
Electric Vehicles Are a Win for Canadian Workers and Global Economies
Early EV excitement and jobs numbers proved that the emerging industry would be a win for the Canadian worker. Clean Energy Canada’s Merrin Smith tweeted about her company’s 2019 report with enthusiasm for the growth opportunity of the electric vehicle market.
“Over the next decade, Canada’s #EV industry is expected to grow by 28% every year—paving the way for a cleaner future and more clean jobs!” said Smith.
Unfortunately, a global pandemic slowed expected EV growth.
After a year of uncertainty, industries around the globe are adjusting quarterly expectations to accommodate economic impacts. Both gas and electric vehicle markets have seen hiccups as a result, but the dip in EV acceleration isn’t enough to worry many investors.
“Honestly, I think that the stats are to be taken up to a point with a grain of salt…it’s a very strange year,” said Daniel Breton, CEO of Electric Mobility Canada, in mid-2020. Even with global economies affected by COVID-19, zero emission vehicles held a market share of 3.3% in the first half of 2020 compared to 2.7% the previous year.
In announcing 2020’s Electric Vehicle Awards, Canadian Electricity Association President and CEO Francis Bradley touted Canadian energy and its importance in fueling a transportation future in Canada.
“Canadian electricity is some of the cleanest in the world,” said Bradley. “The electrification of transportation is a crucial component of building a cleaner and more prosperous future.”
That cleaner, more prosperous future is one shared by a global economy. The shift in global auto manufacturing promises to open new avenues through which traditional manufacturers can offer products and technologies to support the EV market. Components like EV batteries—which are doubling in sales annually—are improved by economies of scale. Much like the economies of scale supported by local manufacturers.
Manufacturers and industry innovators like AirBoss are uniquely positioned to manufacture automotive components for the electric vehicle sector.
How to Best Meet the Needs of Electric Vehicle Manufacturers
The global evolution of energy systems—with a focus on cleaner, more sustainable energy—presents a model where energy is stored and distributed closer to the end user. In the case of electric vehicles, this can mean everything from charging stations in a customer’s home to autonomous electric vehicle rideshares and all the in-betweens.
While the big boys on the block like Tesla, Audi, and Ford are the electric vehicle manufacturers making the news, they’re most certainly not the only players in the space.
Some of the hottest electric car companies in 2021 aren’t very well known yet and are competing for attention. This leaves plenty of room for manufacturers to collaborate as part of the EV manufacturing chain.
To do so, manufacturers need to not only understand the underlying challenges facing the industry but must also evolve to meet the needs of emerging technologies.
Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Challenges
Making components for electric vehicles is a pretty straightforward practice on paper. The manufacturer needs the component, and you supply said component because you’re an industry leader in that sector. For AirBoss, that’s rubber products and customized rubber compounds.
But the challenges surrounding the EV manufacturing ecosystem are more complex in practice. Things like infrastructure and funding still need to be addressed in this emerging, evolving market.
Challenges facing EV manufacturers include:
- A market-specific, multi-stakeholder approach: Everything from local infrastructure design to mobility culture and energy system patterns play important roles in determining local, regional, and global EV funding policies. What works well for one region or city may not be ideal for another. Large-scale manufacturers in those areas can help shape the landscape.
- Shaping the charging ecosystem: Charging continues to be a stress point for electric vehicle manufacturers. A manufacturer can provide a seamless charging experience, but the infrastructure needs to be in place to accommodate consistent results and widespread acceptance.
- Profitability at scale: Production and profitability at scale is an issue for EV manufacturers. Production costs coupled with challenges like battery remarketing and an absent charging infrastructure all make EV manufacturing less profitable at scale than gas vehicle counterparts.
Fortunately, these above-listed challenges are ones being addressed by manufacturers and governments around the world. If your company can position itself as an ally of the electric vehicle, you’ll be in a good position to benefit as infrastructure expands and manufacturing at scale becomes more profitable.
Electric Vehicles 101: Supplying What’s Under the Hood
That’s not to say you should retool your manufacturing floor to cater specifically or exclusively to electric vehicles. That said, if you’re able to provide value-added products, components, or technologies to the industry, it’s in your best interest to do so.
In addition to traditional vehicle parts (like tires, wires, and windows), electric vehicles need specialized components you may be able to provide as a large-scale manufacturer. What’s under the hood, or running along the chassis, is often designed specifically for a certain system or assembly.
Basic electric vehicle components include:
- A battery: Lithium-ion, lead acid, or nickel metal hydride batteries are most common.
- A motor controller: Administers operation and distribution of power.
- An electric engine: Structured around either AC or DC current.
- A power inverter: To convert DC to AC and vice versa.
- A battery management system: To optimize power management.
- A battery charger: Limits power to battery to prevent overheating.
- Regenerative braking: Braking technology used to charge the batteries.
- A drive system: Transferring energy from the engine to the wheels.
Many of the components in these systems are provided to EV manufacturers by outsourced suppliers and other manufacturers. As a result, companies that produce EV components are seeing a boost to their bottom line.
Why AirBoss Supports Electric Vehicle Manufacturing
AirBoss and its subsidiaries are proud of our involvement in the communities and countries where we have factories. Our facilities in Canada and the United States serve to provide not only employment to local workers but to also improve the quality of life in those areas.
We strive to provide solutions to customer challenges and help discover superior rubber-based solutions that enhance profitability and position in their respective markets.
AirBoss has always been a company that seizes an opportunity to grow and uses it to expand our expertise, improve our processes, and enhance the economies and industries we impact. We see an opportunity in electric vehicles to do just that.