This piece was originally published in the May/June 2020 issue of electroindustry.
by Steve Griffith, Industry Director, NEMA
In December, a NEMA Automotive Component Workshop convened Member companies that provide products and systems that make up the internal components of passenger vehicles, vans, commercial and industrial trucks, and buses.
It covered internal combustion engines (ICEs), hybrids, and electric vehicles (EVs). The purpose of the workshop was to assess the opportunity landscape for this section of the transportation market by utilizing Member company expertise and collaborating across the product supply chain.
The automotive industry’s transformation to a future that is increasingly connected, electrified, and ultimately autonomous is already having a profound effect on the automotive component industry. Here are some notable trends:
- Technological advances in sensor technology and electronic systems such as advanced driver assistance systems used in a wide range of vehicle safety and control applications, including anti-lock braking systems, airbags, and engine emissions control.
- Steadily declining battery prices serving to boost the sale of If battery prices continue to fall, they will reach a point that makes EV prices comparable to traditional ICEs in the absence of incentives when you consider a vehicle’s total cost of ownership.
- Tax incentives and regulatory activities. Governments around the world, such as China, the U.K., India, and France, have put forth initiatives to phase out ICEs. In the U.S., tax rebates and incentives were launched to promote the adoption of
- Intense competition in the automotive component industry. More established high- tech companies, including semiconductor makers, are actively pursuing opportunities in automotive components. Automotive original equipment manufacturers are also more willing to collaborate and work with these types of companies to facilitate the development of automotive
Historically, automotive manufacturers have been reluctant to set broad industry Standards on components and instead set internal procurement policies and evaluation protocols. However, with the increasing adoption of EVs, that dynamic could be changing.
A McKinsey report from October 2017 suggests that because of the lower complexity of powertrains in EVs, the path to commodity will happen quickly. Said another way, if Standards can be set, these automotive manufacturers would quickly move to outsource building these subassemblies to reduce costs. This would result in opening the market for manufacturers that specialize in making similar products (i.e., NEMA Member companies).
During the workshop, Members brainstormed policy, technical, and other issues related to the automotive component market. Some of the key findings from that discussion were:
- The component qualification process is lengthy, taking an average 1½+ With technology changing so rapidly once a component is qualified and its design locked in place, it could become obsolete. Also, even minor changes to it could require a requalification. For components not dedicated to life safety, a Standardization process could reduce qualification time.
- There are several Standards gaps in areas such as on-board components (power electronics, inverters, and inductors), EV drive, and advanced driver-assistance
- Product regulations (conflict minerals, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, and Prop 65) are amplified due to the small enclosed environment within the
- There is a need for policies to promote EVs, and connected and autonomous vehicles, perhaps more at the state and/or regional
- A broader dialogue needs to occur with automotive manufacturers, either directly or through their
The NEMA Automotive Component Council is being established to increase manufacturer collaboration in the expanding automotive component market. For more information on the Council and to find out how to participate, contact Steve Griffith, NEMA Transportation Systems Division Industry Director, at Steve.Griffith@nema.org. ei