NOVI, Mich.—Change is always on the horizon, but it seems the automotive industry's horizon is quickly approaching.
Electric vehicles, ride sharing apps and government regulations are driving automotive original equipment manufacturers to make sizable bets on E-mobility, and that in turn is causing massive ripple effects throughout the supply chain, according to one speaker at the Plastics and Rubber in Automotive conference held recently in Novi.
"There are an overwhelming number of changes coming through the pipe into our industry driven in many parts by E-mobility," Ian Macpherson, Afton Chemical Corp.'s North America driveline marketing director, said during his presentation. "The winds really are changing in our industry. From a technology perspective, there are all kinds of initiatives."
OEMs already have disclosed big plans, which include:
- GM said it will introduce a new all-electric vehicle platform and 20 all-electric models by 2023;
- Ford is investing $11 billion to introduce 40 new electrified vehicles, including 16 battery electric vehicles by 2022;
- FCA claims 50 percent of its lineup will feature some form of electrification by 2022;
- Volvo plans to sell 1 million electrified cars by 2025 and offer some form of electrification by 2021, including three all new battery electric models;
- VW plans to bring 80 new electrified vehicles to customers by 2025 and offer customers at least one electrified version of every model across the company by 2030; and
- Toyota will electrify its entire lineup by 2025, either hybrid or full electric, with 10 purely battery-powered vehicles after 2020.
"The OEMs have been making some really big statements and changes to their organizations," Macpherson said. "It seems every week we see a new headline or some pronouncement about the number of electric vehicles they're going to be producing in the future."
Emissions driving change
Fuel economy is the major factor driving these investments, Macpherson said, as governments look to regulate greenhouse gas emissions—some drastically attempting to do away with the internal combustion engine within the next 20-25 years.
But there are major hurdles to these electric platforms, one being the infrastructure. Macpherson said the number of charging stations, the amount of time it takes to charge vehicles and the available lithium all are significant considerations that need to be accounted for before electric vehicles can gain mass consumer appeal.
Disposal of lithium-ion batteries must also be factored into the equation. Macpherson said this will pose a significant challenge for the industry, citing statistics that show for every $1 spent companies would get about 30 cents worth of recycled lithium. One idea is to take batteries from automotive and use them in the housing market.