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Competition in electric vehicle space grows

Posted: 13 Jan 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:hybrid electric vehicle? automotive? battery?

Just a few years ago, electric vehicles were a niche product. Now they are seen as the future of the automotive industry, and many vehicle makers are already offering hybrid electric vehicles. Others have plans to introduce battery electric vehicles. At the same time, governments the world over are investing to support development efforts. As a result, a fierce battle is raging as suppliers fight for a piece of the action.

A report from IMS Research finds that it isn't just traditional Tier 1 automotive suppliers that are involved in this market. Many other companies are active in the supply chain. For example, Valence Technologies, A123 Systems and LG Chem all have agreements to supply Li-ion batteries for major electric vehicle programs. AC Propulsion and UQM Technologies both offer traction motors.

This isn't to say that the traditional Tier 1 suppliers aren't involved in the market. Continental, for example, supplies both Li-ion batteries and traction motors as well as a range of other systems used in electric vehicles like DC/DC converters and inverters. It seems that Tier 1 suppliers like Continental are positioning themselves as "one-stop shops". In other words, suppliers that can offer complete electric vehicle powertrain solutions.

According to report author, Jon Cropley, "The supply chain will change greatly in the future. Vehicle manufacturers have the option of sourcing electric vehicle powertrain systems from a single supplier or from a number of suppliers. They also have the option of developing their own systems or even acquiring companies that already make them. This is a market in an early stage of growth. We should expect big changes."

A number of findings from the report underline just how immature the market is. For instance, less than 1 million HEVs worldwide. Less than 5,000 plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles were produced in the same year.

Despite this, significant growth in production volumes is expected. IMS Research forecasts that over 12 million electric vehicles (either hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric or fuel cell vehicles) will be produced in 2020. This offers a substantial opportunity for the companies supplying systems and semiconductors for these vehicles.

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